How to talk about your mental health

If you’re worried about your mental health, one of the most helpful things you can do is tell someone about it. We know it might be scary but sharing how you’re feeling can be therapeutic.

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How do I talk about my mental health?

Putting your feelings into words is sometimes difficult. It’s perfectly normal to be worried that you might say the wrong thing or explain it badly. It’s also natural to feel anxious that your loved one or friend might think your mental health is worse than you might feel it is.

Try not to worry – talking about your mental health is incredibly important when it comes to getting the right support for you and with the right preparation the conversation can be easier than you think it might be. Here are a few tips on how to talk about your mental health.

Preparing to chat about your mental health

Firstly, remember that some mental health conditions can make you feel isolated and lonely, so the first step really is acknowledging that and reaching out.

Some things that can help with that are:

  • Writing a list of how you feel or things you want to speak about
  • Researching some online resources that you can share or refer to when talking about what’s going on
  • It planning to talk to a partner or friend or family member, setting a time to meet up, when you know you won’t be distracted or disturbed

Remember, that it’s okay to talk about your mental health.  Many people have experienced highs and lows.

Who should I talk to about my mental health? 

There are lots of people you can talk to about your mental health. The most important thing is that you trust that person and while it might feel difficult, you feel safe telling them. Here are some options:

Your GP

Your GP will be very familiar with mental health and will have spoken to lots of people in your situation before. That’s why they’re a great first person to talk to. Your conversation will be confidential, and they will talk you through the support options out there.

Your GP is a great place to start if you’re wanting to get in touch with services local to you for things like counselling or group therapy.

Charities and mental health services

Mind charity has compiled a long list of services available to young people struggling with their mental health. It includes links to telephone counselling, anonymous live chat, and helpful information.

These contacts can be helpful whether you’re looking for general advice and someone to talk to, or whether you’re looking for help related to something more specific such as grief, eating disorders or suicidal thoughts.

Additionally, we also offer free telephone counselling, which is ideal for anybody looking for short-term support.

Friends and family

When you’re ready, it can feel nice to open up to someone close to you, whether it’s a parent, friend or teacher. It means you have someone looking out for you in your day to day life.

Make sure you trust that person and choose someone you think will handle it well. Start by just telling just one person and see how that goes.

When it comes to telling your family, it’s worth having some resources ready to share with them. This can prevent them from panicking and also help you to explain things if you becomes flustered or stressed.

A boyfriend, girlfriend or partner

It can feel very scary telling someone you’re dating about your mental health – it’s an incredibly vulnerable conversation. However, telling the person you’re in a relationship with about your mental health can create a really supportive environment.

We have some tips on how to talk to your partner about your mental health here.

Do I have to tell people I have a mental health problem?

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a specific mental health problem or you’re having feelings that don’t seem normal, it’s tempting to try and deal with it alone. This is particularly true if you’re worried about how people will react. Mental illness can make you feel alone but telling other people can help you feel better.

Legally there’s no expectation on you to tell anybody about your mental health. So, if you’re worried about telling your employer or a lecturer or teacher, don’t worry. You get to choose who you tell, when and how you feel comfortable.

Want to talk to someone anonymously about your mental health?

We are a completely free, anonymous and confidential service. That means you can talk to us about your mental health without telling us who you are. We also work with lots of other organisations so if you call us or chat to us via webchat or email we can point you in the right direction to get better support. Otherwise, join our community to chat to other young people about your mental health. 

Next Steps

  • SANE offers support and information to people affected by mental illness. Call their helpline on 0300 304 7000, open 4:30pm - 10:30pm every day.
  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • AnxietyUK run helplines, email support, live chats and therapy services for people with anxiety disorders. 08444 775 774
  • Anyone can contact the Samaritans on their 24-hour helpline to talk things through. 116 123
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Toni

Updated on 28-Sep-2020