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family meeting, How to Talk About Mental Health with Your Family

How to Talk About Mental Health with Your Family

By on Jun 19, 2023 in Blog

Mental health is just as important as physical health, but it’s less talked about and far less supported. You may have no problem telling a family member you don’t feel good, but you may not be willing to share that anxiety is limiting your ability to achieve your goals or that depression is creeping into your daily life.

Mental health disorders are common. The National Alliance on Mental Health shares that 1 in 5 people experience mental illness each year, and 1 in 20 adult Americans live with serious mental illness. About 75% of those with lifetime mental illness develop it by age 24.

Whether you are a parent who is worried about your young adult or you are concerned about your spouse, parent, or anyone else within your family, recognizing the risks and noticing the signs of mental illness are critical. If you are struggling yourself, it’s essential to start the conversation so you can get the treatment you need for real, long-term relief.

When You Need Help

You’re struggling. You need help. How can you tell a person who loves you that something isn’t right? Even though it may seem as though this should be a straightforward conversation, it rarely is simple. Emotions and stigma get in the way.

To help, use these strategies to start talking about the way you feel.

  • Write down what you want to say. This will help you to work through the difficult steps. “I need to talk to you about the way I’m feeling. I feel depressed all of the time.”
  • Discuss your specific symptoms. “I can’t focus on my work, I’m not sleeping well, I’m scared that I don’t care about people or things the way I used to…” 
  • Consider how they are likely to respond. For example, if you are telling your spouse you need help, what are they likely to say? If you think they’ll brush it off as “a phase,” you might present some facts about mental health that will help them understand. 
  • Don’t expect them to know what to say or do. You may say, “I want you to know how I’m feeling and that I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t know how to manage this on my own.” Then, give them some time to process this.
  • Tell them what you need and what they can do. “I really need someone to help me figure out what’s going on with my thoughts and feelings. Would you be willing to help me find some resources that can help?” 

When Your Loved One Needs Help

You see the signs of mental health disorders in your loved one. You’re worried about what this may mean. You’re not sure what you should do about it, but starting with a conversation is often the best first step.

Consider a few strategies that may help you.

  • Address the symptoms, not the outcomes. “I notice that you’re sad a lot lately. You seem to be withdrawn from things you love to do.”
  • Acknowledge that their feelings are justified. “I know life is really hard right now. What you’re facing is challenging for anyone.”
  • Recognize that what they are feeling is different and not just a part of life. “I don’t want you to feel this way, and I think it is going to take some help to get you through this. I don’t know what is wrong, but I think we should look into ways to get help and not just ignore this.”
  • Only make promises that you can keep. “I can’t fix this for you, but I will be here to talk, and I can take you to treatment appointments. I can help you to get back on track. Let’s learn about this together.”
  • Be direct. “It’s time to talk to your doctor about your mental health. I see the signs of anxiety in your actions, and you shouldn’t have to live like that.”

The key to these conversations is stressing that you see what’s happening, you believe it’s valid for them to feel that way, and that they need professional help to overcome those challenges. Treat mental health disorders as a disease, not just a feeling.

Let Our Team Guide You

At Victory Addiction Recovery Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, our professionals can help you to get support for mental health challenges. We can also help you talk to family members. Reach out to us now to learn more.

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