Mental health problems are serious and widespread; roughly 50 million adults in the U.S. experience mental health conditions. Mental health awareness is improving, and the stigma surrounding mental health is starting to lift. Treatment is vital to overcoming mental health conditions, and often, treatment involves a support system, including therapists, trained professionals, and other individuals with similar experiences. Perhaps the biggest problem is the most fundamental: we don’t know how to talk to others about our feelings. Learn how to open up to others about our mental health issues to get the most from treatment and avoid triggering situations.

The Value of Speaking Up

Opening up is incredibly hard, especially if you are in the habit of keeping quiet or shutting down when discussing complex topics. Many people have had bad experiences sharing personal thoughts or feel like they’re imposing upon others.

Building Pressure

We humans are a lot like pressure vessels. Life’s difficulties build up in us, mounting greater and greater pressure. With too much pressure and no outlet to vent it, we are liable to “explode.” In other words, we’re on track for a mental breakdown or outburst of some kind. Talking is a lot like an emergency pressure release valve on an overloaded system. That’s why we often feel better whenever we talk about our difficulties.

Feel Less Alone

Bottling feelings and keeping things inside is isolating. Hiding our problems alienates us from the world. It creates the false assumption we are alone in having these kinds of issues, and therefore, no one can relate.

Speaking up eliminates this sense of isolation. Sharing your thoughts and feelings allows us to commiserate with others and see if they may be struggling with similar things. Finding others who share similar experiences makes us feel connected.

Get an External Perspective

Sometimes, issues are too big to handle alone, or you may be so caught up in a situation that you can only see things from your perspective. Knowing where to start a discussion can be difficult, but having someone to ask questions and get things going can be helpful. Talking to people gives us another perspective and helps us better understand things out of our control. You may be convinced someone acted a certain way for a specific reason, but after talking it through, you may realize there are many reasons why a person behaved and responded the way they did.

How to Talk About Mental Health

Opening up and sharing your feelings is challenging, but it can be worthwhile. However, getting to the point where we’re comfortable confiding in someone is a big task. Set yourself up for success by learning how to choose who, when, and where to discuss your thoughts and feelings.

Choose the Right People

Not everyone is ready or receptive to the problems or concerns of others. Even people we are close to, such as immediate family members and good friends, may not know how to react to a discussion about mental health. While these individuals care for us and want us to be happy and healthy, they may not be prepared to support us in that way. It may sour the relationship or at least make things awkward.

Take special care in choosing who to confide in. Our partners, close friends, and/or close relatives are often the best choices. If it’s a person you talk to daily, then they’re probably a good candidate. Carefully broach the topic, and don’t be upset or angry if they are unable or unwilling to discuss it with you.

Choose the Right Time and Place

Finding the right person matters, but the time and place are also significant. Unloading mental baggage puts weight on others they may not be prepared to carry. Bringing up a serious topic without any prior indication may catch people off guard. Initiating a conversation in a busy or public location may discourage others from discussing it.

Consider scheduling a time to speak with a confidant in advance. Be frank about the nature of the conversation, as this will give them time to prepare themselves to be a good listener.

Start Small

Discussions about mental health are often nuanced and can be lengthy, so the goal of your first conversation should be simply to let a trusted confidant know that you are struggling or need someone to listen. You don’t have to get through everything in one discussion. Trying to get through everything at once can be emotionally draining and unproductive.

Small steps allow you to have more meaningful conversations while giving the small nuances the individual attention they require. Another benefit of starting small is that you are less likely to overwhelm your confidant. Dealing with your own mental health issue is often an intense and all-consuming experience, but listening to someone explain their feelings and thoughts can also be intense. Having multiple conversations enables you to discuss the things you need to work through without coming down too much on your friends or loved ones.

Seek Professional Help

While support from loved ones is helpful and can make a significant difference, professional help is a proven method to treat mental health. Professional help is particularly helpful when working through significant issues like clinical depression and anxiety. Talking to our friends is wonderful, but a licensed therapist is the best choice at some point.

Therapists know the right questions to ask, and they can help explain mental illness and point out how its symptoms manifest in our personal lives. Their professional training allows them to suggest effective treatment strategies rather than just lending an ear.

Find Help at CWC

Admitting we have mental health issues isn’t always easy, and talking about them can be even more challenging. There are clear benefits to being open with trusted confidants. Having a discussion may be hard, but it can help you move forward in your journey to healing and health.

Comprehensive Wellness Centers has a team of licensed, seasoned mental health professionals to help you or a loved one struggling with their health. Reach out to learn more about how we can help, verify your insurance, and get on the path to mental wellness.