I often see online that it’s good to talk about mental health, but I know the reality can be really hard for many people.

What makes it so hard?

We can’t see mental health as there are often no visible signs, which can make it difficult to let people know when we are struggling.

Are you worried about your mental health? Are you thinking about opening up to someone?

Here are some tips to get you started …

Who will you tell?

Think about who you would feel comfortable talking to. Is there someone in your life who you think might be especially understanding and able to listen to you?

Pick someone you trust; this doesn’t need to be your parents. You might feel much more comfortable with your best mate.

Some people find it helps to open up to a stranger first, to practise how it feels to describe how you are feeling. By a stranger, I don’t mean a random person you pass in the street, instead I mean a mental health helpline or online chat support service.

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What will you say?

Try to plan what you want to share. You don’t have to discuss everything all at once.

Some people find it helpful to write a list to have something to refer to. This can be particularly helpful if you are thinking about opening up to your GP as appointments are often very short.

You might want to make a few notes on the changes you have noticed around how you think and feel, e.g., your mood, sleep, appetite, and concentration levels.

Some ideas of how you might start a conversation are:

“I’m not coping very well and think I need some help.”

“I feel really anxious and am worried what might happen.”

couple, red hair, brown hair, head leaning, support

How will you say it?

How do you usually prefer to communicate? Pick what works for you. Think about how you might want to open up; and remember, it doesn’t always have to be a scary face-to-face conversation.

Many people find it helps to open up through messages or emails as it gives them time to think about how to respond. This may then lead to an in-person chat, although it doesn’t have to.

What do you want from sharing how you are?

The person you choose to open up to may wonder how they can help you. If you can, try to have a think about what you need from them and how you might let them know this.

It may be that you need a hug and a good chat, or maybe you want practical help to book a GP appointment and for them to come along with you for support.

woman, nature, looking, hills, mountains

What if it goes badly?

I can’t promise that when you choose to open up about your mental health it will always go well. Sadly, there is a chance it could go badly. If this happens, you are likely to feel very let down and may find it difficult to trust anyone.

This really sucks, but please don’t give up. There are good people out there who want to listen to, and support, you.

Try to find the courage to try again.

Image of the author, Chloe Foster

Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.

Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.
Website: www.sussexrainbowcounselling.com