Talking about mental health challenges can seem daunting, but sharing a problem may lift some of the weight from your shoulders. When dealing with a mental health challenge, it can make a huge difference to feel you’re not facing it alone.
Remember that two thirds of British adults say they have experienced mental ill-health (the Mental Health Foundation). There’s every chance that the person you open up will have also have faced mental health challenges themselves.
If you’re not sure where to start when talking about your mental health, you can:
- Plan what you’d like to say beforehand. If you’re not sure, try writing your feelings down
- If opening up on the spur of the moment seems too daunting, try texting the other person to give them a heads up. You could say something like, “I’ve got something I really need to talk to you about. When are you free?”
- Find information online and print it off to take with you. Not only can a talking point help, but generic information can also take some of the focus away from you if you feel it’s too much.
- Some people feel more comfortable opening up to a loved one whilst doing something together, such as playing a game or cooking a meal
Tips for talking about mental health
Choose someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Try telling just one person first. This may help to build your confidence when opening up about your mental health.
In order to get the most out of your conversation:
- Find a time when neither of you will be rushed
- Talk somewhere where you feel comfortable and have some privacy
- Let the other person know if you’d like advice or just need someone to listen
- Tell them if you’d like them to keep any of the information private
- Let them know why you’re telling them e.g. because you trust them, you’d like support or you want them to know why you’ve been acting differently
- Be ready to answer questions, but don’t answer anything you feel uncomfortable with
- Try to be patient with them if they don’t understand. If they find it hard to take it in, you could recommend a website they could visit or bring some information to pass them. Some people may just need time to process what you’ve told them.
If you’re unsure how someone will react, try telling them just a few things to start off with, then see what they say. Decide in advance how much you’d like to share. If they ask, just let them know that you don’t feel comfortable saying more at the moment.
If you’re worried about telling a partner about your mental health, The Mix offers some great advice about opening up to a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Our blog on looking after your family’s mental health has some advice for explaining mental health to your children and helping to maintain their mental wellbeing.
We also have a blog on talking to a loved one about their mental health, as well as advice on looking after your mental health and boosting your confidence. You can find blogs and advice sheets on a range of topics on our financial, mental, physical and social wellbeing pages.
If you’re facing mental health challenges, you can pick up the phone and call Ben’s confidential helpline on 08081 311 333 or use our online chat. It’s completely free to get in touch with us if you work (or have worked) in the automotive industry, or you are dependent on someone who is.
You can find out what happens when you call us here.