Your mental health includes how you feel emotionally, psychologically and socially. It is important because how you are feeling mentally affects how you think and act. It also determines how you relate to others.
Mental health often evolves and changes over a lifetime as things like experiences, age and health impact it. While it is often a challenge to talk about mental health, but it’s important to communicate with others about how you’re feeling and any struggles you’re experiencing.
Always remember that you’re not alone. Many people face mental health issues. Talking about your mental health struggles can be the first step toward getting treatment and feeling stronger.
Benefits of talking about mental health
Even if you don’t have serious struggles with mental health or mental illness, it’s still helpful to check in with others periodically. Talking about your overall mental well-being with someone you trust is important because it gives you a chance to focus on how you’re handling life.
You might even find that people around you are struggling with the same issues. A conversation allows you and others to identify negative coping strategies and brainstorm better ways of handling stress.
Creative ways to talk about mental health
Starting a conversation about mental health may be something you resist or dread. These conversations are usually difficult, and they’re often uncomfortable. But if you prepare yourself the conversation might be easier.
Assume that you’ll feel some degree of stress and awkwardness during the conversation, and you might be surprised that you don’t feel as uncomfortable as you thought you would feel. Try injecting a little humor into the conversation too. Although the topic of discussion is major, there’s nothing wrong with lightening things up with a joke or two.
How to talk about mental health with your health care provider
Speaking with your health care provider about your struggles is the best way to get help. Here are a few tips for handling the chat during your next checkup.
- Be open about your feelings.
- Bring a support person along if you need it.
- Realize that diagnosis and treatment can take time.
- Write down the major points you want to prior to your appointment, including symptoms, other medical conditions and questions.
How to talk about mental health with family
You might also want to talk about your mental health with loved ones. Having hard conversations with family may feel stressful, but there are ways to approach this conversation too.
- Choose a place for the conversation where you’re comfortable.
- Decide what you’re sharing and what’s staying private.
- Define boundaries with family so they know if you’re seeking advice or just support.
If you don’t want to talk about a subject, don’t feel pressured to do so. Remember, it’s okay to simply tell family that you don’t want to discuss something.
Talking about mental health at work
Opening up about mental health at work can feel scary. However, there may be times when sharing your experiences is beneficial.
- Be factual about a mental health issue and communicate needs.
- If you don’t receive the support you need, advocate for yourself. This may mean finding a better fit with another employer eventually.
- If your mental health impacts your work, know your rights as far as worker disability.
The first step toward feeling stronger and healthier is often opening up and sharing your private thoughts and fears.