How Are You Really Feeling: Starting a Mental Health Conversation
Unlike outward, physical ailments, mental health conditions can be more difficult to spot, and more difficult to understand. And although we are making promising strides in destigmatizing mental illness, it’s still a challenging topic for many people to open up about.
Maybe you’ve noticed a concerning change in a loved one’s behavior or personality. Before you can know how to help, you’ll have to understand what’s wrong. It may not be the easiest conversation to have, but it’s an indispensable one, and we want to help you get it started.
Keep reading for seven things to keep in mind when you want to help loved ones open up about their mental health.
1. Choose The Right Setting
When you’ve decided it’s time to talk to a loved one about their mental health, give some consideration to the setting for such a conversation. Find a place where your loved one will feel safe and comfortable.
2. Without Passing Judgement, Let Your Loved One Know You've Noticed A Change In Their Behavior.
It’s a good idea to enter the conversation with a quick list of things you’d like to ask your loved one about—specific changes you’ve noticed in their behavior. Maybe they’ve been withdrawn, or misusing substances, or maybe they seem to have lost interest in the things they once enjoyed.
To begin, be gentle in your language. For instance, instead of using broad, blunt statements like, “You’re so anti-social lately,” or, “You’ve been acting weird,” ease into the conversation with a more tentative, tone. Try something like, “Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t seen as much of you lately. Is everything ok?” Or, “It seems like you haven't been acting yourself lately. How are you feeling?”
3. Let Them Know You Care
Mental health struggles can lead to spirals of isolation and loneliness. The most important thing you can do right now is remind your loved ones how much you care. Just knowing that we are not alone, and that our struggles are not invisible, can make all the difference. Let your loved ones know how import they are to you, and how much goodness they have brought into your life. Tell them how valuable they are, even if they can’t see their own value right now.
We want to know how you support the people you love, and how they have supported you. Join the conversation on social using the hashtags #BeWell and #Be