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A Guide for Discussing Mental Health Needs with Your Family

Our mental health is an important component of our ultimate well-being. It has an impact on how we think and make decisions. It also affects how we face stress, and interact with others.

However, discussing mental health can be difficult. Especially with those closest to us, such as family members.

With that said, let's take a closer look at how important it is to talk and express ourselves. On top of that, let's find a guide for effectively discussing mental health needs with our family.

What Is Mental Health?

It’s critical to understand what mental health entails. So, what exactly is it? And why is it important to discuss and acknowledge it?

Mental health impacts our physical health, as well as the way we perceive our everyday environment. It encompasses the response to thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. 

Furthermore, mental health entails more than the absence of illness. It is a state of happiness and peak performance in your everyday living.

Hence, it’s important to stop and take a breather. Allocate time to care for yourselves because mental health is a lot like physical health, too.

How to Open Up About Mental Health?

Mental health is a matter of considering your own health and mental well-being. 

Hence, the first step you need to do is to know what you think, feel, and want out of life. After that, find someone to talk to.

This means taking advantage of the people who are there to support you. It’s important to help you prevent or manage problems, like anxiety and depression.

On top of that, this will enable you to know how to open up about your fears, connect with others who struggle, and get help.

How to Initiate a Conversation About Mental Health to a Struggling Family Member?

It's challenging and uncomfortable to talk about mental health with your family. However, it's critical to open up to them.

You're the one who knows them best and might even interact with them on a daily basis.  Hence, you can be their support or vice versa, by eliminating barriers that hinder you from opening up.

When discussing mental health with a family member, try to do so in a low-key, comfortable setting.

Moreover, asking them how they feel is the best first step to begin the conversation. On top of that, you need to make sure that you'll make them feel they’re in a safe space.

It's understandable if your family member doesn't want to talk straight away. Don't impose any obligation on them to talk about their mental health. Rather, assure them that you’ll be there for them any time they're ready.

If they open up, maintain the conversation and make them feel comfortable. Do your best to listen to their concerns and needs in a nonjudgmental manner.

Offer emotional support as well as knowledge of self-help initiatives and professional assistance. Above all, be present for your loved one.

This is a tough conversation to have, and it may be the first time they admit to having mental health issues. Hence, show them kindness, love, and patience.

How To Ask For Help When Suffering Mental Health Issues

By preparing the communication, you can get the right help possible. Consider including the following three items:

1. "Process" Discussion

Suggests "talking about talking" as compared to sharing information. Use "process" talk to prepare your listener for an important discussion.

2. Express Specific Concern

Specify what you mean by mental illness. Each case of mental illness is unique. To get the best help, give one or two examples of what's causing you stress.

3. Make Suggestions For How People Can Help You

Family and friends may be unsure about what they can do to assist. You can get the best help by asking for particular types of assistance.

You can start building strong social support by telling the right people what you need. Additionally, you can also suggest ways for your loved ones to help.

You may be reluctant to discuss your personal experience at first. But don't give up on seeking help and encouragement from others. You'll find that many people want to assist you.

What Should I Say or Ask to Help People With Mental Health Illness?

Mental health illness isn’t easy to talk about. With that said, here are ideas on how to make a conversation about mental health.

- Let Them Know You’re Concerned About Them

“I was concerned about you. Can we speak openly about what you're going through? If not, with whom are you most at ease?”

- Ask Them How You Can Help

“What can I do to assist you in discussing matters with our parents? Or to someone else who is fully accountable for you?”

- Tell Them You’re All Ears

“I'm a person who truly cares and is willing to listen. What details about your emotions do you want me to know?”

- Ask Them About Their Previous Mental Health Support

“Who or what has previously assisted you in addressing similar challenges?”

- Let Them Know That It’s Good To Have Someone Who’s Going Through the Same Challenge

“Talking to someone who has gone through a similar experience can be beneficial. Do you know of anyone else who has dealt with similar issues and with whom you could speak?”

Why Is It Vital to Discuss Mental Health with Others?

One reason to open up about mental illness to family and friends is to receive guidance and support.

Merely talking to someone who understands you can ease your anxiety. It'll also help improve your mood. On top of that, you may as well wish to request help, such as assistance in treatments.

Perhaps you'd like to discuss your crisis plan with a trusted relative.

Moreover, there's no right or wrong number of people to tell. Some people will benefit from advising family and friends. Others may benefit from telling a few close friends first and then having to wait to inform others.

You’re an expert on your own mental health and can decide for yourself!

A Final Thought

It can be scary to discuss mental health illness. Hence, consider weighing the pros and cons of telling and not telling people.

The advantages and disadvantages are unique to each person. Considering them can help you decide what’s best for you.

Furthermore, you should make a list of the people you're thinking about telling. Include the people you care about the most. List the people you know who are the most emotionally skilled, even though you don't know them well.

If approaching the conversation about mental health seems too daunting, or you’d like further suggestions from trained specialists, reach out to Jackson House to begin the conversation today. Our team can prepare you or others for the difficult conversation and assist with further treatment options in the future.

It's time to feel better

We are here to help and we are in-network with most insurance providers. Call us for a free and confidential consultation.

If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.