Talking with your family and friends about mental illness can be a difficult conversation to initiate, especially when they don’t seem to value the importance of mental health. Facing the negative stigma and the lack of support from loved ones—whether it's in the form of denial, blame, or misplaced anger—can have a negative impact on your current mental state.
Although initiating the conversation may seem daunting, you can still talk to your loved ones about your suffering mental health, even when they don’t seem to get it. Here are a few things to try when it comes to helping your friends and family to understand your mental health needs:
Give Them Time And Space
When you’ve experienced a bad reaction to telling a loved one of your mental health struggles, giving your relationship space can be best for both of you. Sometimes the person in your life won’t know how to react or how to help. Letting them know that you can wait until they are ready to talk can allow them the time they need to fully process their emotions, so they can give you the support you need.
In the age of the internet, there is often a spread of misinformation that perpetuates the stigma surrounding mental illness. If your friends and family are reacting to a sensationalized version of your reality, it helps to set the record straight by providing them with more accurate information and letting them know you are willing to answer any questions they may have.
Consider Where They’re Coming From
Although it may be disheartening when you don’t receive the support you were looking for, understand that their reaction is not a reflection of you. Often times, people can internalize information and wonder if things are their fault, that they could have helped more, and may even be wondering if they have an illness of their own.
Look After Yourself
While coping with a lack of support, remember to prioritize your health and wellbeing. Continue following steps of self-care such as going to therapy, joining support groups, getting enough rest, and any other wellness activities that make you feel better.