What’s a Chat Lap?
A Chat Lap is going for a drive with a mate, and having a chat. Simple as.
Why go for a Chat Lap?
Men often prefer to talk side-by-side, rather than face-to-face. Which makes a car trip the perfect time for an open and honest conversation, without it being weird. And when it comes to mental health, talking can be the best medicine.
What kind of ‘conversation’?
That’s up to you. How do you usually talk with your mates? A bit of banter is a good way to start. But, however you want to do it, a conversation
can make the difference in helping someone feel less alone and more supported. As a mate, don’t underestimate the power of just ‘being there’.
Here are a few pointers
Ask how he’s feeling, it doesn’t need to be awkward. If you’ve noticed he hasn’t been himself, maybe isn't up for a kick of the footy or going out with the rest of the group like he usually does, just ask him how he’s doing, and tell him you’re up for listening if he wants to chat.
“Haven’t seen you out with the boys much recently, everything alright?”
Like we said, keep what they tell you private. And let them know you appreciate the fact they were willing to chat to you. Tell them, mate to mate, that it’s normal to be feeling the way they are and that they are by no means alone.
“Mate, you don’t have to go this one alone. I’m here if you need me. It’ll get better.”
Let him talk. If he wants to, he’ll tell you what’s been going on. Resist the temptation to jump in and diagnose or give advice – just listen. No judgements either – giving each other flack for a bad haircut or a terrible parallel park is par for the course, but what’s said in the car, stays in the car.
“I get it, mate, that does sound tough. Tell me more about it.”
If they’re not keen on a chat
He might not want to talk right away, but you can let him know you're there if he ever feels like it in the future.
You could also try writing an email if talking seems too hard.
“Well, you can always have a yarn to me about anything if you need to.”
Remember to stay in touch – doing things together like kicking the footy, going for a surf, playing a round of golf, or catching up for a meal is great.
Keep in mind that when you are supporting someone with anxiety
it can become overwhelming, so don't forget to look after yourself too, and seek support
when you need it.
Where your mate can get help
beyondblue's Support Service can help point him in the right direction. All calls and chats are one-on-one with a trained mental health professional, and are completely confidential.
You can also point him in the direction of Man Therapy, a site designed to get blokes to take practical action to take charge of depression and/or anxiety. While he’s there, he can take a quick 'Mind Quiz' about himself, his feelings and his life. The 'Mind Quiz Calculator' will evaluate his answers and provide him with some suggestions on how to start feeling better.
If he's not sure how to find the words about how he's feeling the 'Talk about it' page could be useful.
If it’s really serious
If you think things with your mate are really bad, seek help, quick-smart. Call his doctor, a mental health crisis service, or emergency services (000). For further advice you can call Lifeline (13 11 14) or the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467). Having a potentially awkward phone call pales in comparison to losing a mate to suicide.
beyondblue would like to acknowledge Nissan in developing the Chat Laps campaign.