Opening Up To Your Family About Mental Health Struggles

Have you ever been afraid to talk to your family about your feelings? Many people stay quiet about feelings of depression, anxiety, grief, and other mental health struggles in order to not upset their family and friends. This might be for the best of intentions, but we can do a lot of harm to ourselves the longer we hide these feelings.

To help, different organizations have established awareness months to get the conversation started. May is the annual Mental Health Awareness Month, and it could be the chance you’ve been waiting for to talk to your family about your mental health struggles. Here are some tips to open up the dialogue with your loved ones about what you’re going through. 

You Deserve Support

As you plan to tell your family about your mental health struggles, it’s important to know one thing: You deserve support from people who love you. Oftentimes, symptoms of mental illnesses like depression make us think that our problems are insignificant and that they could be a burden on our families if we told them the truth. This isn’t true in the slightest! 

Reassure yourself as you prepare to talk to your loved ones: You deserve a support system, just as someone would if they were going through a physical illness. Talking with your family and other loved ones is an important first step toward recovering from whatever mental health struggle you are going through, and you are worthy of their help, time, and love. 

Set Aside Time to Talk

When you haven’t felt like yourself for a while, it may feel awkward to take time away from your busy schedule to have a conversation with a family member about it. You might even be pretty good at hiding it in order to keep everyone around you happy, and changing your habits seems scary. That’s why it’s important to set aside a time in order to have a safe space to share with your family what you’re going through. 

Find somewhere free of distractions that feels like a safe, familiar place in order for you to open up as much as possible. It could be at dinner, or during a quiet moment at home.  You could start the conversation over text, if that feels better to you. If your family is long-distance, set up a phone date when you’ll all be free to talk. Take the time and space you need to be vulnerable with the people you love, so that they can know that you need help. 

Preparing for the Best

When you live with anxiety or other mental illnesses, you often think about the worst possible outcome of your actions. As you prepare to open up to your family about your mental health, there may be a range of potential negative outcomes your mind comes up with. You might be afraid that they’ll see you differently, or that they won’t understand what you’re trying to tell them. When you notice yourself thinking about the potential negative outcomes of sharing, take some time to think, “What is the best outcome that could come out of sharing with my family?” When you focus instead about the positive outcomes of sharing with your family, you will be able to overcome the fear and anxiety that is holding you back. 

Get Support Beyond Your Family, Too.

Through your whole experience of sharing your mental health struggles with your family, remember that you deserve the support of people who care about you. Regardless of the reactions you receive from sharing about your mental health, you are worthy of help. As you share with your family, you can also enlist the help of professional therapists and doctors to get you the best recovery plan possible. Don’t forget that Nutrien employees can receive free assistance through EFAP, for both themselves and their family members. Learn more online here.