How Are You Really Feeling: Starting a Mental Health Conversation
Unlike outward, physical ailments, mental health conditions can be more difficult to spot, and more difficult to understand. And although we are making promising strides in destigmatizing mental illness, it’s still a challenging topic for many people to open up about.
Maybe you’ve noticed a concerning change in a loved one’s behavior or personality. Before you can know how to help, you’ll have to understand what’s wrong. It may not be the easiest conversation to have, but it’s an indispensable one, and we want to help you get it started.
Keep reading for seven things to keep in mind when you want to help loved ones open up about their mental health.
1. Share Your Own Experiences Openly
A good way to help a loved one feel more comfortable confiding in you is to confide in them first. Demonstrate a safe and supportive environment for sharing, for seeking help, and for offering help. Share about your own bad days, and model the openness you’d like your loved ones to approach you with.
2. Don’t Push Too Hard
If your loved ones don’t want to talk about their mental health just yet, then you can’t force them to. Ultimately, this is their decision, and you are here for support.
It is possible your loved one may become agitated by your inquiries, especially if they’re in a poor mental state, in which case it’s important that you keep calm and collected. This is a good time to back off for a moment. Apologize for distressing them, but remind them that you only ask because you care. You may decide to postpone the conversation until emotions have cooled, or you might ask if there is someone else they would be more comfortable opening up to.
3. Advocate Treatment
Remind your loved ones that treatment is out there and it’s effective. You can’t force your loved ones into recovery, but you can encourage them on their journey, and you can help them find the resources they need.
4. Be Realistic In Your Expectations
Go easy on yourself. This can be a difficult conversation to have, and it’s your first time having it. Everyone is learning as they go.
There is no perfect combination of words that will instantly fix the problem, so don’t be discouraged if you stumble. The most important thing you can do is show up with your compassion, your empathy, you patience, and just #BeThere for them.
We want to know how you support the people you love, and how they have supported you. Join the conversation on social using the hashtags #BeWell and #Be