Disclosing your mental illness to those you’re close with can feel like a looming conversation, but it doesn’t have to be. With preparation, telling your loved ones you live with a mental illness can be clear and simple when the time is right. We’ve included some advice for sharing this information with your friends, family or partner below.
When to tell
To put it simply – the best time to disclose your mental illness is when you feel it’s right, and you feel you’re ready. There’s no deadline, so don’t pressure yourself to do it by a specific date. Have the conversation when you’re feeling well, and you have time to properly explain what’s going on, especially if the person you’re telling isn’t well versed in the topic of mental illness.
What to tell
Plan your conversation ahead of time. This allows ample time to prepare an outline, determine key points and delineate next steps. Include specific examples and terminology that your loved ones need to know, such as what you are diagnosed with, how you feel or any triggers they should be aware of. Include ways they can support you and your mental well-being. This will give them clear, supportive actions they can implement.
A few other reminders:
- Provide follow-up information if they still don’t fully understand what you experience day to day. There are a variety of reputable resources online with information for those who don’t live with a mental illness.
- Set boundaries as you see fit. This is just as much about your comfort as it is your friend’s, partner’s or family member’s.
- You don’t have to share everything in the first conversation. You can share more over time, as long as you keep them updated with necessary information. And, don’t forget to share the positive or good aspects of your journey!
We understand that these conversations hold a great deal of weight, and it can be difficult to start the process. If you or someone you know is struggling to find the best way to share information on mental illnesses, our team of certified staff members and clinicians want to help. Through our mental health counseling services, we can assist those experiencing hardships find positive solutions. For more information, contact us at 508-427-5362 or click here.