Mental illnesses are a common affliction that affects approximately 1 in 4 people in England. So conversations about experiences, symptoms, treatments, triggers, and how to support someone affected should be just as common. But due to the stigma surrounding mental health, they’re not.
If you’re wondering how to approach the conversation about mental health, whether or not it’s normal, and if people will understand what you’re going through, this post is for you. Select Psychology answers these questions and more with our top tips on discussing mental health issues.
Is Talking About Mental Health Normal?
In recent years, there has been a big push to normalise mental health discussions. Since it is just as important as physical health, and there have long been stigmas surrounding mental health, this is a crucial change.
So to answer the question, it depends. For those in the know, mental health conversations will be normal and encouraged as an essential part of your overall health. For those still affected by the stigmas that have run rampant, you may find it slightly more uncomfortable to approach the subject.
Will People Understand My Mental Health Issues?
As previously mentioned, there has been a push to destigmatise mental health. Even movies and series are tackling the challenge of normalising different mental health issues. Bringing it into mainstream media helps people understand specific issues and what they mean for the individual, their family, and friends.
This makes it much easier for people to understand your mental health issues. The prevalent stigmas survived for so long because people didn’t know any better, and these issues were not portrayed in a neutral or positive light.
So people’s understanding of your mental health issues will depend on their knowledge of the issues you are experiencing. We recommend that if you want your partner or family to understand your experience before you even broach the subject, find a series or a movie in which your specific mental health issues are explored, and have them watch it before you get to the conversation. This will make it much easier to explain your experience and the specifics thereof.
How Can I Bring Up My Mental Health With My Partner?
Bringing up a mental health illness with your partner can be difficult, as you do not know how they will react. You may be worried that they will not stay once they know how strong your mental health is.
So, to begin with, don’t be in a rush. This is a very personal subject; you can wait until you are ready and feel comfortable with your new partner. Then, when you’re ready, keep it simple. All you have to do is explain what you understand to be the mental health issues you’re dealing with and how that might affect your relationship sometimes.
Tips For Talking About Mental Health Issues
Here at Select Psychology, we have a plethora of experience discussing mental health. Here are the top tips that we have gathered over the years:
- Have a conversation during a calm activity: Having something to do, like going for a walk or driving, may make it less intense.
- Do not drink beforehand: Feeling muddled is not a good idea when trying to be calm and clear.
- Don’t have the conversation when you’re emotional: You may become defensive and may even attack your partner.
- Expect to be asked questions: Your loved one will probably want to know more, so be prepared to answer some of their questions, though you can also tell them if you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Find and share information: As previously mentioned, doing something as simple as watching a movie where one of the characters has the same issues as you can be very beneficial. Alternatively, find and print some information on the subject, so your partner can find out more.
- Be proactive: If you have a mental health illness that might affect your partner’s life, be willing to try therapy. This shows them that you are actively working towards a healthy mind.
If you are reading this post because you think your loved one is struggling with mental health and want to know how to talk to them, here are our tips for approaching someone with mental health issues.