There is a lot of talk about why you should reach to someone if you’re struggling with mental health, but not much talk about how to do it. It can be hard to open up to your nearest and dearest about something so sensitive. Especially if they don’t often talk about it themselves. It is 100% worth it though, you either find that they support you all the way or that they don’t. That means you get to make a decision about who you open up to in the future and who you keep in your life. This post will detail how to talk to your family, especially your mum and dad, about your mental illness. Although the words written here won’t make the conversation any easier, it will hopefully ease some of the fear around it.
Pin for later:
How To Talk To Your Family About Your Mental Illness
Find The Best Communication Method
What is your preferred method of communication? Texting, phone calls, in person? You know what you find the most comfortable. It may be easier for you to talk to your family by text or messenger if you don’t want to see their reactions. Or maybe face-to-face is preferrable if you want to see them and hug them. Whatever you find the least nervewracking is the best way to do it. Remember that this conversation may be hard for them too, so also think of the best way for your family too. However, ultimately, it’s your feelings and mental health that matter in this instance.
Write Out What You Want To Say
If you go into the conversation prepared, you’re more likely to actually go through with the chat. Handwriting it out or typing it out and having a rough plan will help you collect your words together and create a reference point if you get too emotional. There is no right way to talk to your family about your mental illness, but being prepared will help you a lot. Write down facts about what you experience and the help that is there for you. By doing this, you’re not just informing your family, but you’re also helping yourself get the support your need.
Remember There Is No Pressure To Talk To Your Family About Your Mental Illness
You may feel the pressure, but that’s self inflicted. In reality, you don’t even have to have this conversation. There is no one standing behind you making you do this. And no one telling you how to do it. It’s beneficial to you to create a support network, however, to help you through the worst of it. You will highly benefit from having a strong team of supportive people behind you as you embark on the journey of getting better. If you wanted, you could stick to telling your friends or doctor and tell your family a bit later if you don’t feel comfortable. Whatever works for you.
Suggest Ways They Can Help You
This conversation may feel overwhelming to you, but it’s important to remember that it will be overwhelming for them as well. Especially if it’s your parents who may feel like they have done something wrong. During the conversation outline the ways you want them to help you. If you set these boundaries early on, they will be less likely to give you help that you don’t need or want. Whether it’s simply being there for you when you need to chat, or help you set up a doctor’s appointment. Any help is good help and if they are willing to support you then you’ve all left the conversation better off.
If someone approached you and asked for help, would you know where to start? Read about how you can support friends and family with their mental health.
Be Clear And Specific With Them
It might be hard for them to understand or take in at first. That’s why it’s important that you set out simple ways of describing how you’re feeling. Not only that but also simple ways they can help. They’ll appreciate it a lot if you make it an easy conversation for them. It will also help them understand the true impact it’s having on your life. Instead of just saying “I can’t sleep”, it will help your family understand more if you say something like “I haven’t slept more than 4 hours a night for the past 6 months”. If they understand the true impact your mental illness is having, they will be able to help you more.
This is an important one. It can be tempting for family members, especially parents, to want to “fix” you so you don’t feel bad anymore. This can result in them trying too hard to support you and overstepping their mark. Go into the conversation with clear guidelines of things they shouldn’t be doing. For example, it’s fine to buy a white noise machine to help you sleep, but not fine to come to your home unannounced to set it up. Or it’s okay to bring some food round to you, but not okay to turn up at every mealtime to cook for you.
Boundaries are important. They stop you from getting angry at or resenting your family and helps them understand exactly what they can do to help. The other side of this is making sure that they don’t tell people you aren’t comfortable telling. Set the boundary of keeping this conversation between you and them only. You are in control of your narrative, not them.
Put A List Of Resources Together
It’s entirely likely that once you’ve left the conversation, they will start looking online to learn more about your illness. The bad thing about this is that they may not be visiting the right sites for their information and end up misinformed, or even more confused than before. If you put a list of sites, podcasts and videos together for them to do some research you can be assured that they understand your illness and won’t feed you false information about treatments that may help.
Do It In Your Own Time
Don’t rush yourself into a conversation about your mental illness. If you aren’t ready, you simply aren’t ready. You need to give yourself time to process it all yourself before explaining it to someone else. Of course, some people feel comfortable talking about everything straight away and that’s great too. Just don’t force yourself to do something that you aren’t ready to do.
What If You Talk To Your Family About Your Mental Illness And They Aren’t Supportive
Give Them Some Time
In some cases, they just don’t want to hear it yet and may come round after some research or thought. As stated a few times in this article, it may be a big shock to them. Give them some time to process everything before writing their support off completely. Admittedly though, if they have already stated that they aren’t supporting you, you’ll be lucky to receive support from them in the future. This is a best-case scenario option.
Know That You Aren’t Alone
There are places you can reach out to. You are not alone if your family doesn’t support you. From friends, to support groups, to charities to doctors and therapists you have plenty of people on your side. There will be a list of places you can reach out to at the end of this article. No matter how alone you feel, there is always someone there for you, even if you don’t realise it straight away.
Make Your Own Family
Who says family has to be through your bloodline? If you’ve got some amazing friends, why not make them your family? It isn’t the same as growing up around them, but self made families can be better than blood families in some cases. Of course, this isnt always the case and you shouldn’t just throw away the people that helped raise you. Give them a chance, but ultimately know in your heart who is best for you to be around.
Places You Can Reach Out To
Anxiety UK – https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/
Mental Health Foundation – www.mentalhealth.org.uk
Support In Mind Scotland – https://www.supportinmindscotland.org.uk/
No Panic – www.nopanic.org.uk
Rethink Mental Illness – www.rethink.org
Samaritans – www.samaritans.org.uk
SANE – www.sane.org.uk/support
YoungMinds – www.youngminds.org.uk