When is the “right” time to tell a new partner, employer or friend that you’re suffering with your mental health?
Traditionally in the UK we’ve kept our battles with mental health issues behind closed doors – with many of us waiting months or even years to see a doctor and many more of us keeping our diagnosis and treatment plan to ourselves. However, in recent years in the UK, talking about mental health has been hugely encouraged – and we have reached a time in society where it is as acceptable to discuss mental health problems as it is physical.
The change in our attitudes to mental health could be due to a number of things; international and national campaigns to highlight the most common mental health disorders, our favourite films and television series acting out conditions and, unfortunately, a number of high-profile mental health battles and the deaths of some of the world’s most loved celebrities – due to their mental health. However, even though it has becoming a lot easier to discuss mental health and the issues around particular conditions, when it comes to discussing your own mental health, speaking out can still feel impossible.
Your mental health is your own battle and is not something you have to share with anyone if you don’t wish to. However, when it comes to mental health – often the more people around you who have a basic understanding of your condition, the easier it might be for you in the long run. Having an understanding of your condition and what you might need should you experience any symptoms could be extremely beneficial and mean you get the help you need before it is too late.
With so many of us suffering in silence and putting on a brave face for work, with friends or even on the school run, finding the “right” time to open up to the people we love and trust most in the world – our partners, best friends and family – can feel impossible, so just how (and when) are you supposed to open up to someone new?
A New Relationship
When you start a new relationship and you’re experiencing the honeymoon phase, bringing up your mental health can cause a lot of anxiety – what if they don’t understand your condition, what if they don’t accept it, what if they think you’re crazy?! It can feel like there is never a good time to bring up something that might dull the euphoria of falling in love – however, your partner is likely the person who will support you most during periods of poor mental health.
Sooner, rather than later is often the best policy when it comes to meeting a new partner. Often conditions such as anxiety can manifest in a number of different ways – it can make you frustrated, angry and even physically ill – and having a partner who understands what is happening, and why it is, could make you feel a lot more comfortable.
A couple of months into a new relationship, when you’re sure it is something you want to pursue and you’re reaching a serious stage, is probably as close to a right time as you will find, to discuss your mental health and any conditions you may be experiencing.
A New Job
Letting your new employer know you have a mental health condition can be difficult and many of us fear that bringing up our mental health during the interview process or before we’re hired might hinder our chances. However, like with any long-term physical health problem, letting your employer know can be a huge help to your recovery – so when is the right time to tell them?
After you have been hired and join a new company, once you’re settled into the job and have built relationships with your team, you’re likely to have some sort of meeting to see how you’re settling into the job and to receive a little feedback about your own work. This meeting is often the perfect time to grab a private chat with your boss or line manager to let them know about your mental health condition and any treatments you may be undertaking.
A New Friend
Often, we are drawn to people similar to ourselves and when making a new friend – especially in adulthood – it is often the experiences we have in common that draw us together. A new friend doesn’t need to know everything about your medical history – physical or mental – however, like with a new partner or boss, they’re someone you will see a lot of and someone you might turn to when things aren’t running smoothly. A friend who understands your battle can be extremely beneficial to your recovery – whether it’s getting you out of the public eye when a panic attack sets in, or simply providing a warm cup of tea and a shoulder to cry on when you’re feeling down.
It is important to remember that outside of you and your doctor no-one else needs to know about your mental health conditions, it can be as private or as public as you wish – however, as they say a problem shared is a problem halved and often having a small support network around you who understand when things aren’t great, who can point out when you don’t seem yourself (even if you haven’t noticed) and who can hold your hand when things get tough can be just what you need.
If you’re suffering with your mental health and want to seek the assistance of a professional, private therapy is a great way to start getting better sooner rather than later, without long waiting lists and impossible commutes to appointments. Our interactive online platform provides you with access to professional therapy and a range of fully qualified psychologists and psychiatrists – all from the comfort of where works for you. My Online Therapy offers a discreet and professional service that can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, from anywhere – without disrupting your schedule. Learn more about our online app here.