Talking to Loved Ones About Mental Health
One of the biggest problems our society faces today is breaking down the stigma that surrounds mental health and those that may struggle with it. By talking to loved ones about mental health and conveying the real symptoms people have to encounter everyday, eventually, the harmful assumptions may start to dissipate. Awareness is growing in importance and starting a conversation can be the first step in the right direction!
Why Mental Health is Important
Mental health is one thing that does not discriminate against who it comes after and affects. Anybody in your life (or even yourself) may struggle with some type of mental illness, and it’s important how we go about handling it. Mental health affects a large part of our lives such as our emotional, physical, and social well being. It is, essentially, in every part of who we are and impacts a variety of situations.
Your mental health could determine how you handle specific situations, deal with stress, relationships, friendships, family ties, and making healthy choices. This is why it’s critical to open the conversation about mental health to family members who may be struggling to accept the idea behind mental illnesses.
Mental Health Awareness
Not only does talking about mental illnesses to those in your life reduce the stigma surrounding it but it also encourages others to seek help. It shows that they are not alone, and if someone is dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts this is something that can be life saving. Additionally, someone who doesn’t have an issue with mental health may not understand the daily struggles that come with it and may come off as not compassionate. However, opening a dialogue could help improve that attitude creating a safe space for all.
Conversations to Have With Family
If you’ve never brought up this conversation with a loved one before, it could feel uncomfortable in the beginning. Just remember to implement healthy coping techniques, and be honest about how you feel about a topic. If you’re personally struggle with it, it might be worth it to open up about your feelings on a daily basis and how your mental health affects certain areas of your life. Provide examples that help illustrate your points such as “Remember when I canceled our plans out of nowhere? I was feeling extremely overwhelmed about being in a new space.”
If you see a loved one pass judgment on those who struggle and it bothers you, ask them why they feel that way towards those individuals. Try to approach the conversation with a neutral and understanding tone to avoid any tension. It may also be ideal to talk to this person in an environment that’s not chaotic and provides a peaceful setting such as a cafe or coffee shop. Your loved one may not want to talk right away about mental health, and respecting this will be key to hopefully having a constructive conversation later on.
Being open and honest about your own experiences or feelings might be challenging at first, but preparing your thoughts ahead of time may help alleviate some of the stress surrounding it. Talking with loved ones reduces the stigma and also creates a better, more loving environment for either yourself or the other person. Take your time talking to family members and try not to force the conversation. Although it may seem counterproductive in the beginning, do your best to understand their point of views or opinions! Everyone can benefit from talking about mental health and helping others understand the struggles others may encounter.
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