Talking to a Loved One About their Mental Health

This year has had many changes. Change is hard, especially when we experience so much in such a short period of time. We may be feeling more emotions than we have ever felt, and it’s okay to give yourself grace during this time. If a loved one is having a hard time with their mental health, friends and family can make all the difference in that person’s recovery process.

This year we may have been physically distancing from loved ones we see often. If you aren’t seeing your friend or loved ones in person try talking to them via Zoom or Facetime. When talking to your friend about their mental health it’s important to remember to actively listen to them. Here are some ways to start a conversation with your loved one:

– “I’ve been worried about you. Can we talk about what you are experiencing? Or is there someone who you are comfortable talking to?”

– “What can I do to help you talk about your issues with your parents or someone else who cares about you?”

– “I am someone who cares and wants to listen.”

Talking to your loved one about mental health problems can be an opportunity to provide support, resources, and guidance. It can also help with getting your friend or family member to earlier treatment and give you a greater understanding and compassion about what your loved one may be experiencing.

If someone is reaching out to you for help, here are some ways you can offer support:

– Expressing your support and concern

– Remind them help is available, and that mental health problems can be treated

– Provide them with reassurance that you care about them

– Find out if they are getting the care that they need or want and offer to connect them to help

– Treat them with respect, compassion, and empathy

It’s important to communicate in a straightforward manner, discuss when the person feels safe and comfortable, as well as pay attention to reactions during the conversation. It can also be helpful to make a comparison to physical illness.

If you are struggling with your mental health, opening up isn’t an easy thing to do. If you decide to talk with a friend or family member about your mental health, you may find yourself with extra support and reassurance. Mental Health America also provides some great resources for you to start the conversation with a loved one to discuss how you have been feeling.

It can be difficult for someone to open up about their struggles. Give yourself grace during this time. If you or your loved one needs immediate assistance, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Other Sources:
https://www.talkspace.com/blog/depression-strengthened-relationship-son/
https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members

Jill Haupts, Outreach Coordinator for The Kim Foundation

Jill Haupts is the Outreach Coordinator at The Kim Foundation. She received her bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services from Iowa State University in 2016. Jill joined the Kim Foundation in January coming from Des Moines, Iowa. Her previous experience includes volunteer recruitment and fundraising, as well as experience coordinating services and providing resources to adults who have a mental health diagnosis. Jill’s role in the foundation is coordinating event logistics, presenting and attending community fairs, as well as volunteer coordination and recruitment. She enjoys working in the nonprofit field and has a passion for advocacy and helping others.

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