10 Tips For Talking About Your Mental Health
Opening up about your mental health can be scary. How will people react? Will they treat you differently? Will they act like you're being dramatic? It's important to find the best way that you can communicate your struggles with mental health in a setting that will allow you and your loved one(s) to be at ease and open for a conversation.
10 Tips For Starting the Conversation:
1. Prepare ahead of time.
Knowing what you're going to share well before you speak with others can allow you to flesh out your feelings and put them into words better, as well as prepare you for some questions that you may face.
2. Decide how much you want to share.
You probably don't want to share everything, and that's okay! Decide how much you want to share with each person in your life and don't let anyone push you into sharing more than you're comfortable with.
3. Have the conversation in a neutral, calm environment.
If you're in a stressful environment or in an environment where one party of the conversation can't leave and may feel "trapped," you're not in a good state to have a serious conversation. Find a neutral environment, like an outdoor cafe or a park, where you can have a calm conversation where everyone feels as though they are on equal ground.
4. Communicate in a way that works for you.
If you're not a good speaker, having a face-to-face meeting may make the conversation worse for you. Find a communication style that works for you! Whether that's having a conversation in person, over the phone, texting, or writing a letter/email, there's no wrong way for you to begin to open up.
5. Offer examples.
If there is something that helped you understand your own struggles better, such as a book, article, or song, share it with those close to you to help them understand your feelings better.
6. Don't downplay your struggles.
It's common for us to compare our own struggles to others' during a conversation, and we can often find ourselves feeling as though we shouldn't be complaining. Don't downplay how you feel, what's hard for one person might be easier for someone else, and it's important for us to acknowledge this and support each other to the best of our abilities.
7. Be honest.
The worst thing that you can do during a vulnerable conversation is lie. Be honest about how you feel and how things are affecting you. Your loved ones can't support you if they don't know the truth!
8. Answer questions openly, but tell them if a question makes you uncomfortable.
Being open and honest doesn't mean that you have to give up your privacy. If you're uncomfortable sharing something, you don't have to share it. Set your boundaries and take care of yourself; if someone can't respect your boundaries, they're not the right person to support you on your mental health journey.
9. Keep the rest of your day open.
Conversations like this can leave you exhausted. Don't set any appointments or errands for after you plan to have the conversation. You may want some time to decompress and unwind, and adding stress to your day may overwhelm you.
10. Don't expect things to happen overnight.
Remember that you're only starting the conversation. You're probably not going to come up with any solutions or see any changes after the first conversation. Be patient and take your time, trust in yourself and your loved ones for support on your journey to mental health.
The First Step is the Hardest Part
Taking the first step in overcoming your mental health issues is the hardest part of the process. But, once you open up, you can begin the process to healing with the support of those who love you! Remember that it is a process, though, your healing will take time and may not look like the healing of someone else.