7 tips on talking to loved ones about Mental Health
We live in a world where everyone is talking about mental health. However, the sad reality is that even though everyone is talking about it – most people still don’t understand. For that reason, it can be quite difficult to open up to a loved one about how you’re feeling. It is difficult but important and for that reason, I want to share 7 tips to help make it easier for you to talk about mental health to someone you love.
- Plan the conversation: To make life easier we plan what we’re going to be working on, make plans for our weekend and even make lists for what we want to buy from the supermarket. Having these plans make it easier to function and operate as it means we avoid worrying about the unknown. Similarly planning the conversation and what you want to talk about will make it easier. Start devising the conversation by checking in with yourself “How am I feeling?” or “what has happened to make me feel this way?”. This plan can help you begin the conversation, which is always the hardest thing to do when having conversations about your mental health.
- Plan for Multiple Reactions: You don’t know how your loved one will react to your news. It is worth preparing yourself for the different ways in which they may react. They may be supportive, which is amazing. What if they’re worried? Upset? Preparing for different ways they may react will mean you’ll be able to deal with however they feel effectively.
- Have clear support requests:It’s all well and good opening up to loved ones about how you’re feeling. Most likely they will ask you “How can I help?”. It’s important to know what you want out of this conversation. It may be something as simple as “be patient with me and give me space” or it could be “I need financial support to get counselling”. Whatever you need, make sure you ask for it and you tell them how they can help you – after all this is why you’re having this conversation in the first place.
- Create boundaries for the conversation: When opening up about mental health to loved ones, their natural instinct will be to interrupt. Not because they’re wanting to stall the conversation – but because this revelation will trigger many emotions in them too and hence there will be lots of questions. Before starting the conversation set some rules. Tell them you wish to talk without interruptions, but you will be open to questions (or their side of the story) once you’re done. This will help to keep the conversation on track and prevent you from becoming distracted.
- Writing down your thoughts and feelings: It can be very daunting to talk. Sometimes it’s easier to put your feelings down onto paper and allow them to read. If you go for this option, it is advisable you allow loved ones to ask questions once they have read it. If you do go for the written option, I would highly recommend that you record yourself speaking and then have it transcribed by GoTranscribe. Talking about your feelings is very therapeutic in itself. So whether you talk physically to a loved one or talk to have it transcribed, it will be of massive benefit to you.
- Choose a comfortable environment: You may think it’s a good idea to talk over coffee, or in a park, but you need to ask yourself if you’re comfortable there. What if someone you know walks into the coffee shop? It’s therefore important you think about these things and ensure you do it in a space that is comforting or neutral for both you and the person you will be taking to.
- Take an ally: When having a conversation with loved ones, it can seem like an uphill struggle talking to them. If it makes it easier, take a friend with you. Their presence alone will make the situation easier and more balanced in your favour.
There may be plenty of other things for you to consider, but the tips above are useful for talking to people about mental health issues such as depression. If your mental health issues are being caused by the way a loved one is behaving and this is what you’re discussing – the tips above will need to be adjusted. I will share another blog in the near future discussing how to adjust these tips for those difficult conversations.
Let me know if these tips were useful, or if you have any questions.