Have you ever felt like talking about your feelings to someone but did not because you were afraid? Do feel embarrassed about talking about mental health to others? Do you think, “others will judge me for being emotional”? The stigma around mental health is the reason why it is difficult to talk about it. There are many wrong beliefs about mental disorders. Many find it difficult to talk about mental health because they think that others will consider them crazy. Additionally, mental disorders were poorly understood earlier. Due to a lack of understanding, people preferred to hide it rather than cure it. People refrain from seeking help because they are afraid. In this article, we discuss this fear about mental health. We explore mental health conversation starters to start a discussion about it. This is important because a lot of people suffer in silence.
In this article, we start by exploring the reasons why it is difficult to talk about mental health. We understand the meaning of stigma. We further explore, why we are embarrassed about mental health and how we can reduce this shame.
Stigma around Mental Health
It is difficult to talk about things we don’t feel safe talking about. Talking about mental health puts a person in the spotlight. There is a lot of stigma around mental health.
A stigma is anything that labels a person or negatively identifies them. Stigma stops people from hiring potential candidates. It can ostracize someone from a group. This stigma is why we are embarrassed about mental health. Moreover, it can also lead to discrimination at workplace. Following are some common myths.
- Mental disorders and mental health are the same things
- Mental disorder means low IQ.
- A mental disorder is god’s punishment for sins.
- People become mentally ill due to low self-control.
- People with mental disorders cannot be helped.
- A mental disorder is a sign of weakness.
- Women have more mental health problems compared to men.
- Men should not display emotions. It makes them less manly.
These myths stop a person from talking about well-being in public. People may wonder, “What if someone hears me? What if they think I am mad?” Additionally, even if they know that there is a mental health-related issue, they prefer hiding it. They prefer to suffer in silence rather than seek help.
In this time and age, it is very important to talk about mental health. Many people suffer from mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. Daily life stress, emotional imbalance, and work-life problems are making people’s well-being miserable. Just like physical health, taking care of well-being is the need of the hour.
Problems like pollution or a pandemic are also a reason for increasing mental health problems. Sometimes, delay in taking care of mental health can be dangerous. For example, stress can lead to a heart attack.
Why We Are Embarrassed about Mental Health?
Now you may be thinking, we are we so ashamed to talk about our own mental health. As discussed above, stigma is a major reason for this hesitance. Other reasons that stop us from talking about this important topic are:
People who have a mental health condition are given labels. For examples, ‘This person has depression. He is depressed’. A person with schizophrenia is labelled as Schizophrenic. These labels make people feel as an outcast. They feel ashamed. These labels are often a reason for discrimination.
People with social anxiety are afraid to talk about anything in the public. They think others will make fun of them. Moreover, they worry a lot about speaking something wrong in the public.
Mental Health Conversation Starter
Whether you are a therapist, a lay person, or someone who knows a sufferer; mental health conversations can be tricky. This is because many people are not aware of themselves. In other cases, people are fear talking about mental health. Here are some ways in which you can start a conversation around mental health.
Talk About Feelings
Ask friends and family about how they feel. Usually, when we greet someone, we tend to ask only about their physical health. We often forget or refrain from asking about their emotional and mental health. Asking about how one feels is a good way to start talking about wellbeing. This reduces awkward feelings about topics related to mental health. Straight away diving into complex subjects such as depression can scare a person. Therefore one can start by talking about how they feel emotionally.
Here are some sentences you can use.
“How are you feeling today?”
“How are things at work? Are the stress levels okay?”
“I have been meaning to ask about your emotional health!”
Highlight News About Mental Health
News is a good mental health conversation starter. Start by highlighting the news that talk of mental health topics. For instance, you can talk about the impact of stress on performance. You can also talk about the cases of depression that occur in the news. At the dinner table or on holidays, try to initiate discussions that revolve around wellbeing. For instance, ask the members about work stress or how they have been handling it.
Here is how you can highlight the news on mental health.
“How do you feel about the impact of a pandemic on mental health?”
“Lockdown is taking a toll on mental well-being! What are your views on it?”
“Depression has been killing our teenagers. What do you think of that?”
“Work-life stress can impact our personal life. How do you think we can balance both?”
Start a Fun Activity
If you are a parent or an educator, try introducing conversations around mental health using an activity. You can ask them to pick emotions cards or colors that define their current emotions. You can ask them to list down the stressors in their life. There can be other activities like reading character sketches from different novels or movies and asking people who they identify with.
Whenever you find a chance, discuss mental wellbeing. For instance, if it’s world mental health day, try to ask people about what they know and feel about mental health. If you are a working person, try to take a minute or so during lunch hours to ask people about how they are doing at work. Talk about work-life balance.
If you are a parent, there are certain events in a child’s life when they go through emotional imbalance. These include puberty, school change, vacations, or result days. You can initiate discussions about their well-being during these events. Some children open up quickly while some resist. It is important to be patient.
If you have a friend, with whom you want to initiate mental health conversations, for starters you can try to be an active listener. Often there are misconceptions that people who have mental health problems don’t want to talk about it. However, this is not true. People want to share their problems with others. Support of loved ones is very important when one is not feeling well.
Mental Health Is Equally Important as Physical Health.
If you are someone who wants to create public awareness of mental health, try comparing mental health to physical health. You can use sentences like, ‘If your stomach is upset, you rush to a doctor. Why is it that when the brain is upset, we hide it from others?’ You can draw attention to the mind-body connection. That is, you can explain to others how mental well-being is connected to physical well-being. This is a great way to start a conversation around mental health because it helps people understand the root of many physical problems too.
There are many online forums and platforms where you can start these conversations. These platforms also offer a larger audience. They can help to spread tips about mental well-being at an affordable cost.
Ask About Signs and Symptoms
A great way to start these topics is by casually asking questions about signs and symptoms. ‘ Have you been feeling restless lately?’ ‘Are you feeling lonely and sad more often?’, ‘Is stress getting the best of you?’. These questions can help in reducing the stigma around mental health. This is because people who are facing mental health issue feel validated.
Talking about mental health difficulties to friends and family is important. Even though you are embarrassed to talk about mental health. Try to find someone you can trust in the family. This can be a family member, a close friend, or a mentor. There are many counseling services online. These services can help you deal with embarrassment about mental health.
At Epsychonline, there are various courses that can help you get over the stigma around mental health. These courses can give you the confidence to deal with several mental health disorders. As these courses are self-help in nature, they make you feel less embarrassed about your mental health. Courses like Social anxiety, can help you if you have fear of speaking in public. They allow you to work on your mental wellbeing at your own pace. There are several articles that deal with Embarrassment about mental health. Do check them out