6 Ways to Speak with to a Loved One About Mental Health

Written By: Butler Hospital on November 30, 2023

Approximately one in five people experience a mental health condition in their lifetime - a clear indication of the prevalence of mental illnesses. These conditions result from various genetic and environmental factors and can have adverse effects on the affected individual.

Like any other illness, showing support and care to people with a mental health condition can go a long way in making the condition bearable. If you are worried a loved one is struggling with their mental health, it is important to speak with them as soon as you notice a potential problem. Speaking with them is the best way to find out what is troubling them and what you can do to help. 

Here are tips on how to address mental health with a loved one.

1. Listen Carefully 

Paying attention to what your loved one says can help show them that you understand and empathize with their concerns. 
Here are some ways to show you are actively listening:

  • Put everything aside and concentrate on the person speaking.
  • Repeat what they say to show you are following the conversation. 
  • Ask open-ended questions to get more details. 
  • Summarize the conversation to ensure you understand everything. 
Note that you don't have to agree with everything they say but be sure to show you understand them fully and respect their feelings. 
2. Let Them Share As Much or As Little As They Want 

Talking about mental illness takes a lot of courage and trust. So, if a person offers to open up to you about their experiences, let them talk without any interruptions. Also, don't look like you are pressuring them to talk more than they feel like. This can make them withhold what they intended to share.

In other words, let a person who chooses to open up lead the discussion. You might even be the first person they feel comfortable speaking with, a reason to provide a conducive environment for them to share their feelings.   

3. Avoid Comparisons 

While sharing your experiences about a similar situation you went through is okay, be careful with how you share it. If not done correctly, this can make someone feel as if their pain is not valid. 

The whole reason your loved one came to you is they felt you were the right person to handle their pain. So, avoid creating the impression that you have or know people who have gone through worse.  

Instead, strive to show empathy by not comparing their issues with others. 

4. Talk About Wellbeing  

A person dealing with a mental condition can benefit greatly from adopting practices that promote well-being. You can talk about ways they can practice self-care to alleviate the situation they are going through. 
Some strategies that can prove helpful include but are not limited to: 

  • Exercising
  • A good night's sleep
  • A healthy diet
  • Generally focusing on a healthy lifestyle. 

Focusing on wellbeing can help keep their physical and mental health in check.     

5. Don't Judge

To show your support to someone experiencing mental health issues, it is advisable to keep your biases and opinions aside. Even if you feel the person is solely responsible for their own troubles, focus more on offering support and care instead of judging them. 

You never know what led them to their current situation or even understand what they feel at the moment, so judging them may exacerbate their problems. 

6. Help Them in Seeking Professional Help

If you notice the situation is worsening over time, you may need to consider professional help as soon as possible. Encourage them to see a mental health expert for further diagnosis to help prevent the condition from taking a toll on them. 

Fortunately, mental health conditions are treatable, and your loved one can receive the necessary professional help to ensure they feel whole again. 

Talking about mental health is the first step to helping someone deal with a mental condition. Through the support of family and friends, your loved ones will no doubt overcome their challenges to live a normal and productive life. 

If you or your loved one is dealing with a mental health concern, our professionals at Butler Hospital are here to help. Contact us for more on our services and how we can help. 


Disclaimer: The content in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and should not serve as medical advice, consultation, or diagnosis.  If you have a medical concern, please consult your healthcare provider, or seek immediate medical treatment.