Dealing with a mental health disorder comes with unique challenges, and trying to face these difficulties alone can cause unnecessary pain, isolation, and relapse. It is essential to communicate with your loved ones about your mental health to ensure you have a stable, reliable support system. However, communicating your concerns is rarely easy, and societal pressures, as well as the existing stigma surrounding the topic of mental health, can present additional obstacles. Still, knowing how to communicate with your loved ones when it matters is important, and taking steps to be open and honest in safe, productive ways can give you the support you need to prioritize your mental health.
When to Talk to Your Loved Ones
There are several situations that may be appropriate to confide in your loved ones and seek their support. If you are unwell, communicating with a single supportive loved one is ideal; this individual can relay your needs to others and offer support while you cope with your mental health concerns. Seeking support and understanding is essential for living with mental health disorders. During a crisis or relapse, taking this step can make an immense difference in how you cope with your condition.
You may also want to communicate your mental health concerns and needs with loved ones when they have expressed concern over your wellness or behaviors. Doing so can provide some valuable context that makes your loved ones feel that you can trust and confide in them. Loved ones who are worried about you will likely be open to hearing about your mental health and learning how they can help, thereby creating a reasonably safe and secure environment to communicate.
If your mental health has impacted your ability to maintain relationships or function in general, communicating with your loved ones can help them better understand the reasons behind your behavior. Taking this step can give them more context and reassure them that you are not intentionally distancing yourself from them.
Feeling nervous about these serious conversations is natural. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Speaking with a counselor or therapist can help you determine how to initiate and hold a conversation about your mental health. In working with a professional, you can also practice discussing your mental health in a safe environment where you can voice your concerns and questions in advance. Remember that you are the best judge of when you will feel ready to disclose information about your mental health.
Preparing for the Conversation
Before initiating a conversation about your mental health, you should set aside time to speak with your loved ones so you can avoid interruptions and distractions. Expressing a desire to talk to your loved ones about an important topic will be crucial when scheduling the conversation. While you do not need to disclose the exact nature of the conversation, you should make an effort to express how personal the topic is and how much you appreciate your loved ones’ patience and support in advance. This practice can help your loved ones understand that the conversation you want to have is challenging and essential, making it easier for them to commit to an empathetic, open-minded approach.
You will likely find that taking time to prepare beforehand will give you greater clarity and peace of mind for the conversation itself. While you do not need to write a speech or create a concrete outline, identifying what you want to say and how you want to say it can help you stay focused and calm during the actual conversation.
How to Communicate Openly and Honestly
When communicating with loved ones about your mental health, giving specific examples of your concerns and challenges can provide valuable context to inform the kind of support you receive. You may reference a specific diagnosis and symptoms or behaviors that have a negative impact on your life. By sharing these details, you can show your loved ones that you trust them with this sensitive information and that your struggles are real. Remember that there is no obligation for you to disclose every aspect of your mental health with your loved ones; your comfort and safety are important, and you can always express your desire to keep some things private.
Asking for help and support can be stressful. When you communicate with your loved ones, try to identify specific ways they can support you. If your loved ones are inexperienced with mental health disorders, they may not know how to help you even if they want to. Coming to them with ideas and requests will let them know you trust them and want them to be involved. Your ideas may also help encourage them to learn more about mental health and develop other ways to offer their support and encouragement.
Being vulnerable and honest about your mental health is rarely easy. The thought of communicating with your loved ones about your concerns may make you nervous because you do not know how they will react. However, choosing to take this step for your mental health can help you develop a core support group that aids in the management of challenging symptoms that impact your life. While you may be nervous about opening up to your loved ones, doing so is a brave decision that can help you rely on friends and family members for encouragement and aid. At Sober Life in San Diego, we are here to provide professional guidance and support beyond your peer and family groups. Sober Life can offer you valuable tools and resources for coping with mental health disorders and asking for help with outpatient and inpatient options. Call us at (619) 542-9542 today to learn more.