How to open up to someone about mental health problems

A problem discussed, is a problem half-way solved.

How to open up to someone about mental health problems

MedicalNewsToday defines mental health as cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well-being. It involves how people feel, think and behave. However, people confuse mental health with a mental disorder. It is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the challenges of life and contribute to their community.

Some of these challenges are overwhelming for people, and it becomes difficult for them to cope. According to Mind, a mental health charity, one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England, and one in six reports experiencing a mental health problem like anxiety and depression. It is hard to detect that one has a mental health problem, but once detected it is advised to seek help. Unaddressed mental health issues can lead to dangerous situations like suicidal thoughts and self-harm. Though the two are not mental health diagnoses they are related.

According to Mind, only one out of eight people suffering from mental health issues get treatment, and the most common treatment given is psychiatric medication. This means that seven in eight people receive no treatment. The stigma around mental health challenges makes people fear to open up or seek assistance from anyone – Someone with mental health illness is called ‘crazy’ or ‘incompetent’ rather than unwell. You do not know who, how, when, and if you should say anything concerning it to anyone for fear of how they may respond. 

But, however difficult it may seem, this is nothing to be shy of. It is like any other medical condition. The people you share with may be compassionate and understanding. If you are sharing with someone close, it may lead to a deeper bond. It may even be the case that talking about it helps alleviate some of the issues you’re facing. 

It is often hard to detect that you may have a mental health problem, since in life you have ups and downs. If there are too many downs, and they stop you from doing the things you love or not feeling alright, this means that you have a mental problem. For example, you might be anxious if you are told you are going to deliver a speech in front of a large number of people – that’s normal. However, if you feel anxious all the time and the anxiety stops you from sleeping or going to work. There are important guidelines to follow if you need to open up about mental health problems you might be facing.


Accept that you have a mental health problem and you need help. Already there will be changes in your behaviour and people around you might have noticed. Do not shy away from opening up. However, do not feel rushed since you need to feel secure enough that the people close to you will back you and offer the support you need.

Identify the right person

Once you are ready to open up and talk to someone, make sure you approach the person you are most comfortable talking to. This might be a close family member, a friend, or a psychiatrist. Trust is very important because it makes you free to say all that you are feeling. 

Speak to them

Tell your story. It does not matter if you are emotional or if the person you are sharing with is emotional. However, if you’re not comfortable sharing some details as they are too overwhelming for you, leave them for now until you’re at a point where you can talk about them.

Allow them to ask questions

It’s likely that the person you’re speaking to will want to ask questions once you’ve opened up. Try not to get offended, the questions are to help them understand better, but if you do not have the answers, let them know that you’re not able to answer, and you might discuss it later.

Listen to their advice

After you have shared the challenges and problems affecting your mental health and well-being, listen attentively to the advice given and  follow it. The person you’ve chosen is only going to have your best interests at heart. If  they are not able to assist you, they might help you search for alternative assistance, including  therapists or counsellors.

Put it in practice 

Apply what you were advised as the solution and always keep your adviser abreast of developments. If you received psychiatric medical help then use the medication as advised. There isn’t always an immediate cure all, and you might need to try a number of different techniques or medication combinations before you see a notable improvement in your mental health.

Stress and challenges of life will be there as long as we exist but they should not stop us from achieving our goals in life or thinking of ending our lives.

Header Image Credit: Nappy


John Muchiri

John Muchiri Trainee

John is a Trainee Journalist at Voice and has produced research papers and film documentaries on food security and early childhood pregnancies. John has BA in Journalism and Mass Communication, MA in International Relations, and MA in International Development. He is passionate about politics, food security, and immigration issues. John loves to travel and experience different cultures.

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