Tips For Talking
Start a conversation about mental health when there is an open window of time to have an in-depth discussion, and neither you or the person you’re talking to will have to cut the conversation short to take care of other obligations. Plan to set aside at least 30 minutes to an hour.
If you aren't sure how to bring up the topic of your mental health, here are a few ways to get started:
Start with a text if a face-to-face talk is too intimidating. It could be a plain old text message with a note that says, “I have some important things on my mind and need to make time to talk to you about them.”
Find & share info. Find important information online that might help you explain what you’re going through. Print it and bring it with you when you’re ready to talk.
Take the Youth Screen at mhascreening.org. Print out your results to share with the person you plan to talk to.
Still Stumped About How To Get Started?
Use the letter below and fill in the blanks. Pick from the options we've listed or use your own words.
For the past (day/week/month/year/__________), I have been feeling (unlike myself/sad/angry/anxious/ moody/agitated/lonely/hopeless/fearful/overwhelmed/ distracted/confused/stressed/empty/restless/unable to function or get out of bed/__________).
I have struggled with (changes in appetite/changes in weight/loss of interest in things I used to enjoy/ hearing things that were not there/seeing things that were not there/ feeling unsure if things are real or not real/ my brain playing tricks on me/ lack of energy/increased energy/ inability to concentrate/alcohol or drug use or abuse/self-harm/skipping meals/overeating/overwhelming focus on weight or appearance/feeling worthless/ uncontrollable thoughts/guilt/paranoia/nightmares/ bullying/not sleeping enough/ sleeping too much/risky sexual behavior/overwhelming sadness/losing friends/unhealthy friendships/unexplained anger or rage/isolation/ feeling detached from my body/feeling out of control/ thoughts of self-harm/cutting/thoughts of suicide/plans of suicide/abuse/sexual assault/death of a loved one/__________).
Telling you this makes me feel (nervous/anxious/hopeful/embarrassed/ empowered/pro-active/mature/self-conscious/guilty/__________), but I’m telling you this because (I’m worried about myself/it is impacting my schoolwork/it is impacting my friendships/I am afraid/I don’t want to feel like this/I don’t know what to do/I don’t have anyone else to talk to about this/I trust you/__________).
I would like to (talk to a doctor or therapist/talk to a guidance counselor/talk to my teachers/talk about this later/create a plan to get better/talk about this more/find a support group/__________) and I need your help.
What if someone talks to you about their mental health?
If you’ve made the decision to talk to someone about your mental health, you may be nervous about how things will go and what could happen. Check out the list below to find out more about what you can expect.
Things might be a little awkward at first for both people in the conversation. For a lot of people, talking about anything related to their health or body can be kind of tough at first.
You’ll probably feel relieved. Being able to open up and share something you’ve been keeping to yourself for a long time can feel like a weight has been lifted. You might learn that the person you’re talking to has had some personal experience or knows someone in their family who has gone through something similar, which will help you to feel less alone.
You may encounter someone who doesn’t understand. While it’s likely that a person will know someone who has struggled with their mental health, they may not understand what it’s like- especially if they haven’t struggled themselves.
Expect to be asked questions. Some questions might include: How long has this been going on? Did something difficult happen before you started feeling this way? Can you describe what it’s like? You don’t have to answer every question that you’re asked if you don’t want. Remember that the person you’re talking to is probably asking questions to help them better understand what you’re going through.
It’s possible that you might not get the reaction you were hoping for. It can be discouraging if you work up the nerve to speak up and are then told, “you’ve just got the blues” “get over it”“stop being silly” or “you worry too much.” Sometimes this kind of reaction has to do with culture or expectations. Try to explain how it is really having an effect on your ability to live a healthy and happy life and you aren’t sure how to make things better. If for some reason the person you chose to talk to still isn’t “getting it” someone else will. Think about someone else you could talk to that would give you the help you need. Don’t stop or go back to ignoring your situation or struggling alone.
The conversation is the first step in a process. Congratulations for getting the ball rolling.
If your first conversation isn’t with your parents, you’ll probably need to talk to them at some point. See the following page for tips and common concerns about talking to parents.
Your next step might be going to an appointment of some sort. It may start with someone at school like the guidance counselor or school psychologist, a visit to your regular family doctor or psychiatrist, or with another kind of treatment provider like a therapist or social worker. These professionals can help figure out what exactly is going on and how to start getting you the help you need. You might need to talk to more than one person to find someone who can be the most helpful.
It takes time to get better. You could be going through something situational, which can improve with time to process feelings (for example, grief after the death of a loved one or a tough break-up) or adjustments to your environment (like switching lockers to get away from someone who is a bully), or you could have a more long term mental health issue. Mental health issues are common and treatable; however, you may have to try a few different things to find right type of treatment or combination of strategies that works best for you.
© Copyright Mental Health America, 4/11/2018
If you are in need of mental health support stop by the Community Center, we are located at 38 Park Way in Happy Camp. We are open Tuesday-Thursday from 9am-4pm, closed for lunch from 12pm-1pm. The Community Center contracts with Siskiyou County Behavioral Health and we can refer you to their services.
For the 24 Hour Mental Health Crisis Line/ Access Line, Toll Free: 1-800-842-8979
For this Article and more information visit: www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/time-talk-tips-talking-about-your-mental-health
Happy Camp Community Action, Inc. is a Non-profit organization dedicated to economic development and youth programs in Happy Camp, California and surrounding communities.