How To Start Opening Up About Mental Health

Saturday, 10 February 2018

 So, today I wanted to talk about why voicing your thoughts and feelings regarding mental health is so important. For me, the day I told my Mum about what had been going on with my panic attacks and how I felt depressed all the time completely changed everything. I was terrified though. I'd made the whole prospect of telling someone how I was feeling completely frightening and held it in for close to 2 years. I was scared of judgement, being vulnerable and people not understanding. I didn't want anyone to know because I felt so embarrassed and confused about what was going on. How would I talk about it when I didn't have the words or explanations? It doesn't need to make any sense at first though. You can just vomit the words at someone and make sense of them later. 

I dread to think how many hours I've spent talking to my parents in detail about my anxiety and depression. And on top of telling them I had all those hours with my therapist. But talking more has changed entire outlook on it all. Afterwards you feel like such a weight has been lifted and you feel a little lighter. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that. I know it's really scary though but you'll feel better once you do it. The worry of the problems in your mind being said out loud can be terrifying. Like they fully become real. But I promise if I can do it, you definitely can. I wanted to share a few tips from my experiences to hopefully help you start the conversation about your mental health or whatever else you're struggling with.

Tips for talking

1. Find the right person
This is the most important point on this list I think. You need someone who you trust and connect with otherwise you will hold back and won't feel 100% comfortble about opening up. It's very likely for you to not connect with your therapist at first. How would you possibly talk about your innermost thoughts to a complete stranger? But sometimes it's actually easier to talk to people you don't know. I saw a news article the other day (here) which said that two thirds of people feel like they have no one to talk to about mental health. That stuck with me because I know what that feels like. To be surrounded by people who would listen but you feel lonely. I think it's amazing that so many people talk about mental health now but it's still not enough and people need to be aware of the services out there for people to talk. There's always someone who will listen.

2. Don't feel ashamed
Okay, I know it's easier said than done. But I can't stress enough that you shouldn't feel embarrassed or ashamed. It's mad how many people out there will feel the same way as you. I always try to think of it like this; if someone came to you and said they felt depressed and anxious would you judge them? No (unless you're a twat). What would you say to them if they said they felt ashamed? You'd make sure they knew that there's nothing to be embarrassed about because it's normal and so common. You are never alone in how you feel. Of all the billions of people in the world there's no way you're the only one who feels the way you feel.

If talking is too hard then write a letter
Of course it won't be the same but it's still effective. If you aren't ready to talk to someone in person that's absolutely fine. No pressure. However, writing someone a letter about it might help you. Or even writing how you feel in a diary. I started a diary when I was at my worst in 2016 and it really helped me get things out of my head and off my chest without the worry of being judged. Sometimes I read it now and can't quite believe the change in myself. There are so many services like Childline and Mind which mean you can write to/phone someone and get some advice as well.

Tips for listening

You don't need to give advice
They're not looking for you to be their therapist and solve all their problems. They don't expect you to have all the answers so don't try to give them. Just be supportive and listen. They just need to know that someone cares and is there. Just let them know you are there for them whenever they need you but they don't need you to cure them. They'll most likely feel like a burden so try to reassure them that they are cared about and loved. 

It isn't about you
For the love of god don't turn it on yourself. It will just make them feel like you couldn't give a toss and that they've been shut down. It'll be a big step for them to open up so you banging on about that one time you felt anxious about going to the dentist won't help. Even if you've got the best intentions just be mindful of how you go about the conversation. Listening is key. And ask questions; encourage them to feel comfortable with talking about mental health so they feel like they can come to you in the future.

Be understanding and patient
Of course it's not easy to hear someone you love has been struggling with their mental health but just think how hard it must be for them. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think how they feel. It's going to be so scary for them to open up so be patient and as supportive as you can. You might not fully understand what they're going through but that doesn't mean you can't be there for them and help them.

I hope that's helped.
Liv x


  1. Such a great post. I know that it sounds easier than it is, but speaking to somebody really is so important!

    Danielle xx

    1. Thank you! Oh it definitely is, it's just getting over that initial hurdle xx

  2. Very important subject, I'm sure this post will help a lot of people.

  3. This is such good advice which I find rare. It's funny because many mental health sights simply inform you on the symptoms and how to tell if someone suffers from a mental illness. But it's another thing to receive information on how to tread when this person is mentally suffering or how to open up to your own mental illness. So thanks very much for this post and have a nice Valentine's.😊

    #sweetreats xx

    1. I've noticed that too, there's not much advice out there about ways to help someone suffering. Thank you for reading!xx

  4. Really enjoyed this informative post Liv. As a counsellor this is exactly what it's about. Great insight, especially on your Tips for Listening.

    A Mindful Reminder


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