Tips for Talking About Your Mental Health
What is mental health?
The term “mental health” refers to an individual’s mental and emotional state. It is an important part of your overall health and well-being. Mental health is not only about being free of mental illness, but also how you feel about yourself and others, and your ability to cope with daily life.
When is it time to talk to someone about mental health?
When your mental or emotional state is making it difficult for you to manage stress, relationships, or everyday responsibilities, it’s time to talk to someone.
Who can you talk to about mental health?
When you decide it’s time to talk, think about the people in your life and choose someone who:
- you trust, such as a family member, friend, church leader, or work or school resource
- can listen without judgement as you express your thoughts and feelings
- can help you develop a plan to get better
- will keep your information confidential
How can I talk about my mental health?
While recent reports indicate that more individuals than ever before are experiencing mental health issues, that does not mean it is easy to talk about it. For some individuals, culture or profession could be a deterrent from discussing what they are feeling.
The fact is, about 80 percent of the population will experience a mental health condition. It is time to get rid of the taboo surrounding it, because talking about your mental health is the first step to feeling better. Unfortunately, that does not make the conversation any easier.
The good news is we have seen celebrities and athletes alike publicly discussing their personal battles. Tennis phenom Naomi Osaka pulled herself out of a major tournament for her mental health, while Simone Biles chose to step away from competition at the 2022 Olympics. Award-winning actor Meryl Streep publicly advocates for increased awareness of bipolar disorder, and singers such as Demi Lovato are becoming more vocal about their own issues. Their voices can potentially reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and hopefully makes it easier to talk about.
If your mental health does not feel right, it is important to find someone to talk to and assist you in making a plan to get the help you need to feel better.
What if someone wants to talk to you about their mental health?
If you are approached by someone who wants to talk about their mental health, you should:
- Show your support and concern and truly listen to the individual without judgment.
- Avoid the temptation to assure them that “it’s just a phase” and “everything will be fine.”
- Ask questions that will help the person better explain how they are feeling.
- Think about what you would like someone to do if the situation were reversed.
- Ask the person how you can help and what they would like you to do.
- Remind the individual that help is available and offer to arrange for it.
Warning signs of a mental health crisis
The following are warning signs of a mental health crisis. Whether it is you or someone else experiencing any of these signs, we urge you to talk to someone as soon as possible.
- suicidal thoughts
- feelings of worthlessness
- excessive worry, fear, or sadness
- extreme mood changes
- brain fog or inability to perform daily activities and responsibilities
- changes in sleep or eating habits
- avoiding friends or activities you once enjoyed
The National Alliance for Mental Illness has more information and additional signs on this topic here.
If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, or if you or someone you know needs help now, immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, contact our access center at 401-606-0606, or call 9-1-1.
Questions to ask about your mental health
It is important to stay in touch with your feelings and emotions. Having a check-in with yourself daily is a great way to do that. Taking time for self-reflection and self-care is always key to your well-being too.
Ask yourself questions to determine your current mental state, such as:
- How am I feeling today, physically, mentally, and emotionally?
- What do I need today to feel good?
- Do I know who to turn to for help if needed?
Once you know the answers, you can act accordingly.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing a mental health crisis or is in need of mental health services, we are here to help. Learn more about Lifespan Outpatient Psychiatry services.
About the Author:
Lifespan Blog Team
The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.
Lifespan Living Newsletter
Find a Doctor
The right provider is in our network
Search more than 1,200 providers in our network.