On Bell Let’s Talk Day, psychologist says let’s also listen

Dr. Heather Fulton with the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction has listening tips

Last year, #BellLetsTalk was the most-used Canadian Twitter hashtag, according to Twitter Canada. The campaign even gained the attention of Ellen Degeneres.

But on Bell Let’s Talk Day 2019, which takes place on Wednesday, it’s important to also listen, says Dr. Heather Fulton, a registered psychologist at the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

“Let’s Talk is really important for reducing stigma and talking about mental illness,” said Fulton. “Part of that is, let’s listen to what people have to say.”

READ MORE: Let’s Talk: Nearly 1 billion interactions on mental health since 2011

“Listening is really important because it communicates to that other person that their responses, feelings, thoughts and actions make sense and they’re understandable,” she said. “It’s not necessarily agreeing with them or you conveying that you like what they’re saying, but that you get them, you understand them and it helps that relationship.

“It can be one of the most powerful things that we do with someone.”

While many people think they’re good at listening, “perhaps they’re not actually as good as they think they are,” Fulton said.

Common pitfalls include the compulsion to dole out advice, “but feeling truly listened to and understood can be much more helpful than any advice or suggestions that we offer,” she said.

RELATED: First responders share struggles with adversity in new Delta Police podcast

Another pitfall is depending on platitudes like “it happened for a reason” and “it made them a better person.”

“Often when we say those phrases, we say them because we feel uncomfortable, we don’t know how to help and we want them to feel better as fast as possible,” Fulton said. “But they rarely have that intended effect of helping the other person, and often they actually make a person feel worse.”

Instead, Fulton suggested practicing active listening by concentrating on what the other person is saying, and using nonverbal cues such as eye contact and nodding your head.

Further, stating feelings descriptively like “you felt ignored” and showing tolerance by trying to understand the person’s emotions and reactions based on their life circumstances are tested and true listening techniques.

“With listening… just listen. Be present,” Fulton said. “You don’t have to fix things, nor are you really able to. Just ask them how you can help anyways.

“Sometimes it might just be sitting and listening to them, bearing witness to some of their experience. Showing them that you’re not uncomfortable with them or their emotions can be really validating.”



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: gunshots fired outside Langley gas station

Two people involved left scene uninjured, police said

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

Three TWU grads named to first ‘Fellows’ program at Langley-based university

Program selects promising recent graduates to participate in a year-long paid internship

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Ryan’s Regards: What if he made it to Langley?

Terry Fox began the Marathon of Hope 40 years ago and people are still running in his honour

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Most Read