Tips for Safely Opening Up About Mental Health toEmpower Your Healing Journey

by Dr. Kate Truitt

Experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns can make us feel isolated and misunderstood. Despite having loved ones around, it can be difficult to confide in them about our struggles. However, it's important to remember that we're not alone in this. Millions of people share similar experiences and also struggle with mental health issues without knowing how to reach out for help.

But there is hope for recovery. Whether you're dealing with ongoing cycles of emotional pain, stress, or specific symptoms of depression or anxiety, you don't have to suffer in silence. It's time to break the stigma surrounding mental health and seek the support you need to heal.

Creating safety through connection:
Sharing your mental health struggles with someone you trust is an important step towards healing. It's common to feel like a burden or worry about being judged, but opening up to someone close to you can provide a new perspective and help you regain control. Depression and anxiety can make it difficult to see clearly, and having someone to listen and reflect on your feelings can make a big difference.

Even if you think you've been hiding your emotions well, loved ones may already have a sense that something is wrong. Sharing your mental health condition can bring relief and appreciation from them. Vulnerability can also lead to greater intimacy and connection, which can be crucial for healing. Keeping your struggles to yourself can lead to feelings of isolation and being "stuck," which can worsen your symptoms. Remember, you don't have to suffer alone, and reaching out for support is a brave and important step towards recovery.

Having worries about opening up is natural:
One common concern when sharing our mental health struggles with others is the fear of receiving a negative or unhelpful response. While it's natural to expect questions and concern from loved ones, it's also possible that some may respond in a way that is frustrating or hurtful. In some cases, they may need guidance on how best to support you. One strategy is to start the conversation with a process statement that sets the tone for your discussion. For instance, you can let them know that you need to talk about something important, but that you're feeling nervous and could use their understanding.

It's important to be patient as your loved ones may need time to adjust to your disclosure. However, if you find that they are not able to provide the support you need, it's essential to set boundaries. The goal of opening up to someone is to seek support, not to add to your stress or discomfort. If you no longer feel comfortable discussing your mental health with them, you can respectfully ask them to respect your privacy and that you have found someone else to talk to. Remember, it's okay to prioritize your mental health and seek the support that best meets your needs.

When friends and family aren’t safe:
If you feel like you cannot confide in your friends or family about your mental health struggles, there are still other options available to you. Seeking therapy is a great way to get the support and tools you need to manage your symptoms and feel better. If you feel like you need additional support, you can consider increasing your therapy sessions or exploring other options.
Finding a community of people who share your struggles can also be very helpful. There are many local support groups and online forums where you can connect with others who understand what you're going through. Alternatively, if you're not yet comfortable talking to others, writing or engaging in art can be a helpful way to release your emotions and work through your feelings.

My book Healing in Your Hands: Self-Havening Exercises to Harness Neuroplasticity, Heal Traumatic Stress, and Build Resilience is designed to be a self-healing guide to build safety and support on your journey towards healing the past, creating the present, and building the future. At the Truitt Institute we also host many powerful Healing in Your Hands workshops designed to empower you to building your best life through the integration of neuroscience and resilience skills. I look forward to seeing you at an event soon!