Talking It Out: Communicating Your Mental Health Needs to Your Loved Ones

Opening up to your loved ones about your mental health needs might not always be easy. In most families, such concerns might still be discussed in hush-hush tones. Perhaps, the hardest part is initiating a conversation about what one is going through. You could perhaps be worried about your loved one’s reactions, if they’d be able to understand and feel what you are going through, or how it might affect your relationships.  

At the same time, there’s also a growing recognition that mental health is influenced by one’s environment. One’s social support can be a valuable resource as they navigate this journey. Conveying your mental health concerns to the ones closest to you can be the first step in starting a dialogue on these topics. Through this, they might be able to understand your needs and concerns better. 

However, this conversation is more likely to happen when you feel ready for it. There’s also no one way to go about it. Keeping the following things in mind might make this topic a little less daunting to broach:

☘️Choosing a Time, Medium, and Place You Feel Comfortable With

Before initiating a discussion, you may try taking some time to assess if you’re ready to discuss your concerns with your loved ones. Sometimes, such conversations can be emotionally charged, something one may not have the bandwidth to go through at that time. Also, choosing a medium for the same based on your comfort, such as an in-person conversation, a phone call, or a letter can make this talk more conducive. Depending on the amount of privacy you want, you might also consider choosing a private or a more public setting. 

☘️Thinking about Your Expectations

You could also try introspecting on what you wish to communicate through this conversation beforehand. Setting some intentions may be helpful as they can guide the way you approach the subject. You may want your loved ones to understand what you want to say, or perhaps it is advice that you're seeking. Based on these expectations, you can frame your message accordingly. 

☘️Using Examples and References

It might also be possible that they may not fully understand your concerns on the first go. Many people do not have the same understanding and language for mental health issues. It could be helpful to offer some relevant examples in this case to convey your needs. Analogies or helpful resources like blogs and videos can sometimes convey what you might find difficult to say yourself. 

☘️It May Take More than One Conversation  

While it can be disheartening if one’s loved ones are unable to understand their point of view, it might be helpful to remind yourself that these dialogues often take more than one try. Giving them some time to process what they heard and restarting the conversation at a later point can be one way to go about it. 

☘️Knowing When to Withdraw from the Conversation

While communicating your mental health needs involves an ongoing dialogue, it is also important to recognize when to withdraw from these spaces. If the conversation gets too distressing to bear or if you feel they aren’t receptive to what you have to say, it might be a good idea to take some time out.

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Talking It Out: Communicating Your Mental Health Needs to Your Loved Ones

Talking It Out: Communicating Your Mental Health Needs to Your Loved Ones