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Talking to a family member or friend

If you’re having a tough time mentally or emotionally, deciding to talk about it with a family member or a friend can feel like a big decision. But having that conversation can make a big difference to your health and wellbeing.   

You don’t have to tell all your family members or friends what you’re experiencing, but it can be a relief. It also gives them the chance to remind you of how much they care for you. Choose the person or people you want to talk to and which ones you don’t. You probably have a good sense of who will or won’t be supportive based on your past experiences with them. You can ask them not to share what you’ve told them with anyone else (but remember, they might need to share if they are worried about your safety). Or you can ask them to tell others in the family for you.  

If you are a young person, it can be really helpful to tell an adult you can trust. Sometimes friends your age may be really supportive, but might not know how to help.

“It’s not until recently that I’ve actually disclosed to my family and friends that I was struggling with this illness for so long. My immediate family didn't really know.”

– Vanessa

How to have the conversation 

When you talk to a family member or friend, they may have lots of questions. If you think questions or comments will make the experience harder, you could ask them to hear you out before they respond. Let them know whether you want their advice or just need them to listen. Be clear about which details you want them to keep private. Offer examples of how your mental health challenges have been affecting you and, if you know, how you would like them to help. 

If you’re already working with a health professional, you can ask them to talk to your family member or friend and answer any questions they may have or provide links or print outs of useful information. A health professional can also share strategies for how your loved one can best help you.