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How to Speak with Loved Ones About Your Mental Health Diagnosis

It’s estimated that about half of Americans will experience a mental illness in their lives. This statistic becomes even more worrisome since many people will never get treatment for their condition. Those who do receive a mental health diagnosis often gain a sense of clarity regarding what they’ve gone through. Discussing the issue with loved ones, though, can prove burdensome.

At Transformations, we understand that being diagnosed with a mental illness creates significant changes in your life. And as you might expect, it’s important that your loved ones understand what you’re going through. The following guide will help you with these sometimes difficult discussions, and if you’re still struggling with certain issues, contact us for guidance today.

Telling Family About Your Mental Health Diagnosis

Reaching out to loved ones after a mental health diagnosis can seem like a herculean task. There’s long been a stigma attached to psychological disorders, and in many cases, people feel that their family members simply won’t understand. The important thing to remember is that there are people who care about you. They may not fully comprehend what you’re going through, but that’s why these conversations are important.

If you’re having difficulty getting to the point where you can speak with your family about a mental health diagnosis, it may prove helpful to consider the benefits of doing so. By having these discussions, you’ll gain each of the following advantages:

  • Loved ones can provide encouragement as you’re getting better.
  • It reduces the stigma of mental illness so your family is comfortable and supportive.
  • Talking with sympathetic loved ones can improve your mood and reduce stress levels.
  • Family can help you find treatment, provide rides to appointments and implement your crisis plan.

These are just a few of the benefits of disclosing your diagnosis to friends and family. It’s important to remember, though, that this is about your mental health. You don’t have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, but there’s little doubt that you’ll benefit from this process. When you decide to have this discussion, the following steps can help you.

Understand Your Mental Illness

One of the biggest hurdles people face with friends and family is a lack of understanding. Loved ones can hurt your process without even knowing it. This is why you need to make sure you understand your own condition before discussing it with others.

Decide When to Tell

It’s often best to disclose a mental health diagnosis to family when you’re well, but if you need to do this when you’re not, make sure you have the discussion with someone you know will be supportive. Otherwise, revealing your diagnosis when you’re feeling better is ideal. This may also be necessary when it serves a purpose (e.g., a loved one is worried), but really, it just comes down to when you’re ready.

Having the Discussion

The National Alliance on Mental Illness suggests having a three-part conversation with loved ones about your mental health condition. These steps will ensure that your discussion remains focused and fruitful:

Start with a ‘Process Talk’

Tell your loved one you have something important to talk to them about. Let them know it’s important and that you want them to understand. This is essentially “talking about talking.”

Reveal the Specific Problem

Don’t just tell someone you have a mental illness. Discuss with them the precise issues you’re going through and provide concrete examples to help them understand.

Provide Suggestions for Support

Why are you having this conversation with your loved one? How can they help? Ask for specific types of assistance. This could include vocal support, attending group meetings, asking for help with treatment, or even just getting a hug.

Should Mental Health Treatment Involve Family?

Disclosing a mental illness to loved ones can help both you and those you care about. In many cases, though, this isn’t where the benefits of family inclusion end. Studies have shown that including loved ones in treatment can improve mental wellness and reduce the chance of recurring episodes or substance abuse relapse.

While including family in treatment can prove therapeutic, this won’t always be the right decision. Some people unfortunately don’t have supportive networks, and in these cases, individual recovery is both necessary and possible. This is something you should discuss with your mental health professional. Contact us today and we can help you decide the best path forward.

Rebuilding Relationships After Diagnosis

While it’s difficult to accept, mental illness often strains important relationships in a person’s life. Once you receive a diagnosis, you can let your loved ones know what the underlying issues were all along. While discussing your condition with friends and family is important, though, it won’t always repair strained relationships.

Consider using the following steps to rebuild relationships after your diagnosis:

  • Explain how your condition affected your behavior in detail.
  • Ask loved ones to be open about their feelings and what they experienced.
  • Be willing to accept that a specific loved one may not be the one to talk to about these issues.
  • Make plans with your significant other about how to move forward.

Unfortunately, some relationships will be strained beyond repair. This may not necessarily be because something blatantly disrespectful occurred. Perhaps you simply didn’t talk to a loved one for a few months because you were experiencing a bout of major depression. Regardless of the underlying cause, some relationships will prove irreparable. It’s okay to attempt to reignite them, but it’s important to accept that this may never occur.
< h2>Take Back Control of Your Life Today

The old adage tells us that no person is an island, but with mental wellness, this is more of a requirement than a proverb. Having an understanding social support system can improve your odds of recovery and effectively overcoming the difficulties before you. While not everyone will be helpful in this journey, it’s important that you know how to communicate with those who will.

At Transformations, our certified staff of professionals takes an individualized approach to inpatient mental health programs and treatment. This means we consider every aspect of your mental health, and since introducing family into the treatment process often proves beneficial, we include loved ones whenever possible. You will play a major role in deciding whether this will be helpful.

Contact us today to learn how we can help improve relationships with loved ones while healing from mental illness.