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Talking about your mental health problems

It is hard to talk to people about how you feel. You may be worried that they would not take your feelings seriously. You may also be worried about what will happen after you tell them your problems.

If you think you do not know anyone who will listen, you can call a confidential counseling service. Talking to someone you trust about something upsetting may help you to:

  • sort through the problem
  • see the situation more clearly
  • look at the problem differently
  • release built-up tension
  • find out that you are not alone
  • identify options or solutions you had not thought of before

If you do not talk about your problems, you may find your pent-up tensions or feelings burst out in a way that is embarrassing or inappropriate. You might also find that things may get worse if you do not get on top of them straight away.

An important first step is deciding who you want to talk to. You need to feel that you can trust the person you are talking to. There are counselors who specialize in talking to young people or families. They can provide counseling in specialty areas, including:

  • mental health
  • alcohol and other drugs
  • pregnancy
  • family issues
  • schooling and careers
  • physical, sexual or emotional abuse

It is important to express your feelings. This can help you release built-up tensions and make better decisions. There are several ways you can express how you feel, including:

  • set aside some time for yourself
  • write about how you feel
  • walk away from stress situations
  • self-talk
  • relaxation
  • play sport
  • be creative
  • use music

Talking to your doctor or mental healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist, about your mental health issues or emotional difficulties is a positive step towards improving your mental health. Being honest and open will help you get the most appropriate treatment for your needs.

You may feel embarrassed talking about things like anxiety, abuse, voices in your head, drug or alcohol use, grief or depression, but doctors deal with these mental health concerns every day. They are trained to deal with sensitive issues and to be aware of the different needs and cultural backgrounds of the people they work with.

Your mental health professional, such as a psychologist, can help you with the current facts about your particular mental health issue, give you options based on facts, and have your best interests in mind. They will encourage you to ask questions. Your doctor or other healthcare professional will have heard similar sensitive issues or questions many times before and will not find it awkward or embarrassing.

During your mental health consultation, be sure to talk about:

  • your medical and mental health history
  • your symptoms of concern 
  • sensitive issues that may apply to your mental health
  • any treatments or therapies you are taking
  • whether you have stopped another therapy or medication recently
  • recent stressors or losses, such as relationship breakup or loss of employment