How to Talk to Your Loved Ones About Your Mental Health
It can be an unnerving experience to share with your family or a loved one that you’re struggling with your mental health. If you’re under 18, it can be scary to tell your parents that you are experiencing emotions or practicing behaviors that they don’t understand. And if you’re over 18, it can be intimidating to disclose that you aren’t feeling like yourself and you don’t feel as in control of your life as you previously thought. You may be worried that your loved one will judge you, critique you, or simply not understand the situation. Asking for help is scary, but it isn’t impossible. If you are struggling with a mental health disorder or addiction, it is important that you talk to someone. Below you will find some tips on how to approach your family, friends, or other loved ones regarding your mental health. When you feel the most helpless, that’s when you can find the most help.
Set Aside Some Time to Talk One-On-One
In an age of constant distraction, it is critical that you prioritize your mental health and wellbeing. There are many ways you can prioritize your health and wellness, but one such way is by disclosing your situation to a trusted friend, spouse, relative, or other loved one. You may pride yourself on your independence, but when it comes to recovery, it takes a village! This means you need to set aside some time to talk one-on-one with your trusted confidant. Make sure your phones are put away and that there are no distractions. Go to another room where you can get full privacy. If you prefer to be out in the open, go to a coffee shop or park where interruptions are kept to a minimum. The key to this approach is intentionality. Mental Health America recommends setting aside at least 30 minutes to an hour to talk to your friend or loved one about what you’re going through.
Be Completely Honest
Telling others about a mental health challenge or addiction is medically proven to reduce stress and improve your mood. This fact should encourage you to be fully honest about your situation! No matter how nervous you may be, open the conversation with honesty and transparency. The National Alliance on Mental Illness calls this “process talk.” This takes place when you “talk about talking.” It means that you mentally prepare your listener for what they’re about to hear, and it indicates that what you’re about to say is very important. It may be awkward at first, but you can break the ice by saying, “Something I’ve wanted to talk to you about is…” or, “I need to share with you that recently I’ve been struggling with…” or even, “I need your help with…” The important thing is that you’re honest about what you’re going through.
Commit to Treatment
No matter anyone else’s opinion, the most important aspect of your healing comes with treatment. Whether that means checking into a rehabilitation center, attending a support group, talking to your doctor about starting medication, or checking yourself into an in-patient facility, you will not get the help you need without treatment. One reason to share with a trusted individual about your mental health is to open the door of accountability in terms of treatment. Your friend may encourage you to go to treatment if you haven’t already; your spouse may remind you of the importance of sticking with your medication when you want to skip a day; your mom’s phone calls may hold you accountable to going to therapy. Treatment is rarely a singular activity. It takes a lot of love, from a lot of people, to encourage you along your treatment journey.
If Appropriate, Invite Their Participation
It’s not our job to heal people, but it is special when we can be witnesses to other people’s healing. Lisa Olivera once said, “Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you doesn’t mean you can, should, or need to do it alone.” Sometimes our loved ones can just be witnesses to our healing; other times, they can be active participants. But before inviting others along your journey, remember that, oftentimes, we have to help people help us. Provide practical and tangible ways your loved one can be there for you during your recovery. This may include driving you to doctor’s appointments, going with you to pick up your medication, sending you helpful podcasts or books, writing you encouraging notes, or simply being there to listen to you.
Before you invite someone to hold you accountable in your treatment plan, make sure that they are a safe person. Questions to ask yourself are: Does this person have a history of consistency? Can this person be trusted with the information that I share? Is this someone who is loyal to me, and whom I am loyal to? Does this person make wise decisions for themselves?
Sometimes the first and often most difficult step in receiving treatment is inviting others into your experience. The professionals of Achieve Medical Center understand that treatment isn’t a solitary journey, it takes a village. A multidisciplinary private psychiatric and mental health center, Achieve Medical Center provides comprehensive mental health and wellness services to children, teens, and adults. The compassionate staff at Achieve Medical Center is committed to providing you with first-class wellness services and inviting your friend or family’s participation as much as you need. At Achieve Medical Center, we understand the importance of surrounding yourself with the best support network possible. Mental health is a priority and talking to your loved ones about your mental health is the first step toward building that network. Call Achieve Medical Center at (619) 375-3977 for more tips on talking about your mental health with your family or friends, or to schedule a consultation.