Talking about a mental health concern you are having with your partner may seem like a difficult conversation to have. If you are struggling with opening up and reaching out for help, you are not alone. According to a 2017 Survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, only 41 percent of adults in the US with a mental health condition actually sought help in that year. This number would likely be higher if adults felt like they had the support and encouragement of close loved ones.
Why Talking About Mental Health with Your Partner is Hard
Many of us walk on eggshells when it comes to broaching the subject of our own mental health. One of the most common fears is that we will not be understood and therefore feel even more exposed and vulnerable. Another common fear is that we will hurt our loved ones’ feelings by implying we are unhappy as a result of something our partner has or has not done.
How to Start the Mental Health Conversation
Talking about mental health directly with your partner may be initially stressful. However, by addressing concerns, you are more likely to feel better personally and see subsequent positive effects on your relationship as well.
One of the reasons mental health is difficult to talk about is that it is not tangible like a physical injury. Broaching the subject from a more concrete or objective perspective, may help.
“I know if my leg were broken, you would want me to do whatever necessary to repair it and reduce my pain level. My feelings and emotional state of mind are harder to understand. What I am going through, like a broken leg, is extremely painful. I want your support in doing what is necessary to heal.”
Seeking Treatment Without Your Partner’s Support
Studies suggest that we are naturally wired to trust one another. Therefore, it makes sense that opening up to your loved one about your need and desire to seek treatment is optimal. However, it is not uncommon for individuals to begin therapy without disclosing to their partner that they are doing so. Talk to your therapist about this. Therapy is a great place to come up with a plan about how to receive the outside help you need and be open with your loved one at the same time.