Tips For Talking About Your Mental Health
You might feel hesitant to talk about your mental health with others. Mental health problems are often accompanied by crippling shame that prevents you from wanting to reach out for help. Shame lies to you, saying that you are a burden to others and that no one is as messed up as you are.
Why It’s Important to Talk About Your Mental Health
For several years, I didn’t know that I was experiencing symptoms of major mental illness. I kept my feelings a secret from everyone because I was embarrassed to admit how overwhelmed I felt. As soon as I confided in someone else, I wished I had talked about it earlier.
The majority of mental health problems cannot be solved on your own. Talking about your mental health with others is the first step to getting help. Trusted friends can be invaluable resources in your journey. They care about you and they want to help you.
Prepare to Reach Out
Before you talk to others about your mental health, you have to come to terms with it yourself. If you are in denial about what you’re really feeling, being honest with someone else will be hard. I’ve found that writing down my thoughts is extremely helpful. It helps me sort out my complex feelings and the possible reasons behind them.
After that, find a person you want to talk to. It should be someone you feel safe with, where you can be honest and vulnerable. Then decide how would you like to communicate with them, like texting, video-chatting, or in-person. If it requires setting up a time to meet, plan that out.
Finding What to Say
Start by expressing your gratitude for them by saying something like, « I’m coming to you with something that’s hard for me to talk about, but I trust you. I’m looking for support, and you’ve been a great friend to me in the past. Thank you for being there for me. »
Then explain how you feel. You might say, « I’ve been having a lot of racing thoughts that I can’t get rid of. I’m feeling really stressed by it all, and I can’t focus on anything I do. »
Next, communicate what you expect of them. Here are a few ideas, depending on what you expect:
- « What I want from you is a listening ear. I don’t want solutions, so please don’t offer advice yet. »
- « My head is feeling like an unsafe space and I feel like something’s wrong with me. Can you please reassure me and tell me nothing is wrong with me? »
- « I really need professional help. Will you help me set up an appointment with a therapist? »
- « When I feel panic coming on, I never want to reach out to anyone because I’m afraid of burdening them. Can I text you the next time it happens? »
Lastly, thank them for being there for you. Let them know how much they mean to you.
Be Patient With Others
Your friends are trying their best to help you. Many people haven’t been up close to mental illness before, and they might need some practice. They probably won’t be perfect at helping you right off the bat. But just as you want them to be patient with you, you can be patient with them.