How to Talk About Mental Health

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Confusion and stigma surrounding mental health can make telling loved ones about your mental health conditions or concerns difficult. You may be worried about how they will react, or if they will treat you differently afterward. However, confiding in your support system, including your closest friends and family, is often essential for emotional and mental well-being. By talking to someone who cares about your wellbeing, you can reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health. Loved ones can also provide concrete support, like helping to find a treatment program or providing transportation to and from appointments.

1. Talk About Your Mental Health When You’re Ready

When or if you decide to tell friends and family about your mental illness, be sure to do so when you are ready. Don’t feel forced to share before you feel comfortable. Your feelings are your priority. You can even practice with a therapist and discuss potential issues or questions that may arise. It is also important to choose a time when you feel well enough to articulate and translate your thoughts in the best way possible.

2. Consider Who You Trust

You are not obligated to talk to anyone about your mental health diagnosis. This is your mental illness, so you decide who gets to know and who doesn’t. If you’re unsure about whether to tell other people, try creating a list of pros and cons. Consider the following questions when determining who you should talk to:

  • Do I feel emotionally safe with this person?
  • Can I trust this person?
  • Are they judgmental?
  • Would they be willing to learn about my mental illness?
  • Will they be capable of offering emotional support?

3. Jot Down What You Want to Say

It may be difficult to remember everything you want to say, or it may be hard to put what you want to say into words. It can be helpful to jot down some notes before your conversation with your loved ones. Notes can help you organize your thoughts and make sure are communicating in the best way possible.

4. Tell as Much or as Little as You Want

Decide in advance what parts of your diagnosis you’ll discuss and what parts you won’t. You can share as much or as little information as you want. So, if you aren’t comfortable sharing every detail, don’t. Only share what you are comfortable discussing. It is perfectly understandable to answer a question with, “I’d rather not talk about that right now.”

5. Tell the Whole Truth About Your Mental Illness

Due to the stigma surrounding mental health, it may be tempting to downplay your diagnosis. Sugarcoating the seriousness of your mental health condition can lead to problems down the road. Not disclosing the whole truth about your mental health can set any relationship up for failure. Contrarily, telling the truth can strengthen the relationship between you and your loved one.

6. Prepare for Different Kinds of Reactions

Sharing about your mental illness can be difficult for you and your loved ones. Unfortunately, not everyone will have a positive reaction. For some, this news can be difficult to hear, understand or accept. They may need time to process. It is important to be prepared for all kinds of reactions such as sadness, shock, or denial. Some people may not even know how to respond. Make a plan for how you will respond to different outcomes so you can feel prepared to handle different reactions if they occur.

7. Provide Information When Talking About Mental Health

There is a lot of misinformation about mental illness. In order to break down the stigma, do your research and provide as much information as possible. Print out some basic information to help educate others about what you are going through.

8. Let Them Know How They Can Support You

Your loved ones may feel like it is their responsibility to “fix” you. They may try to help you feel better in ways that they think are helpful, even when they’re not really helpful at all. Even when loved ones want to help, they often don’t know how. So, talk openly about your mental health. Give friends and family a better chance to help by asking directly for specific types of mental health help. And, set boundaries. Be clear with people about when you want their advice and when you just want them to listen.

How to Talk to Someone About Their Mental Health

Talking to a loved one about their mental health is important, but it can be a difficult topic to broach. If you are concerned about a loved one’s mental health, and you want to broach the subject with them there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some tips on how to talk about mental health.

Start the conversation

The first step is to initiate a conversation with someone who may be experiencing mental health struggles. You can start by asking general questions such as “How are you feeling?” or “Is everything okay?”. These simple phrases can be a starting point for a more in-depth conversation.

Listen with empathy

When someone opens up about their mental health concerns, it’s important to listen without judgment. Make sure to show empathy and validate their feelings. Acknowledge what they are saying and let them know that you are there to support them.

Encourage self-care

Encourage the person to engage in self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature. These things can be helpful in managing mental health problems.

Know when to seek professional help

While talking about mental health can be helpful, there are times when a person may need the help of a mental health professional. If someone is experiencing severe mental health problems or is in crisis, it’s important to seek professional help immediately. This can include calling an emergency room or speaking with your primary care provider. They will be able to refer to you to the most appropriate level of care for you.

Educate yourself

Learn about different mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or bipolar disorder. This will help you better understand what a person is going through and how to support them.

Be mindful of language

Avoid using derogatory or stigmatizing language when talking about mental health. This can make people feel uncomfortable and unwilling to talk about their struggles.

Respect privacy

When talking about your own mental health struggles or those of someone else, respect their privacy. Don’t share their personal information without their permission.

Support family members and colleagues

Mental health problems can affect anyone, including family members and colleagues. Be supportive and encourage them to seek professional help if needed.

Seek advice from experts

Mental health professionals are trained to provide support and advice to people with mental health problems. If you are unsure of how to help someone, seek advice from an expert.

Professional Mental Health Treatment

Talking about mental health can be a difficult but important conversation to have. By starting the conversation, listening with empathy, encouraging self-care, knowing when to seek professional help, educating yourself, being mindful of language, respecting privacy, supporting family members and colleagues, and seeking advice from experts, you can make a positive impact in someone’s life. Remember, mental health problems can affect anyone at any point in their life, and talking about it is the first step towards healing.

In addition to talking to your loved ones, it is important to seek the help of a mental health professional if you are struggling with mental health issues. Therapists are trained to provide expert guidance and treatment for various mental health problems. They can help you navigate through difficult times and develop coping strategies to manage your mental health struggles. Remember, there is no shame in seeking professional help for your mental health concerns. By taking care of yourself and seeking the help you need, you can improve your mental health and overall quality of life. Mental health issues affect millions of people around the world and it is essential that we break the stigma surrounding mental health problems by openly discussing them. Call Clear Behavioral Health today to learn more about our therapy services in Los Angeles.

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