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Peer Talk

How much should I share about my mental illness with my friends?

Even with close friends, we can find that we might be uncomfortable with being so vulnerable with them. We can fear that we may be putting too much for them to handle, or we might be revealing some things to them that might overwhelm them. But either way, disclosing this to friends and family can really help relieve the stress and pain, and explaining to them will help them to understand what you’re going through.

 Talking to the right friends who will support and motivate you to will really help your mental health. But knowing who to tell can really be difficult. Remember that although there may be many benefits to telling someone your situation, you might find that it might be better to not share with them. This will vary between each person, as you can think about how much you trust them, whether you think that they would be able to handle it, or if you think that they will be there for you. And you might find that of the people that you’ve chosen to tell, they might not be able to handle it and might end the relationship or drift away. But it’s so important to remember that you deserve strong support and motivation during times like this.

 One of the main things to sharing your mental illness with others is planning on what the conversation might look like. It might seem weird, but going into this prepared will help ease you of the stress of what you want to share and how it might come off to them. You can start off the conversation by explaining what this conversation means to you, whether it’s to make them aware of what you’re going through, to ask them for support, or any reason that can make them aware of what you’re thinking. But most of all, the most important thing to talk about during the conversation is to explain to them what your feelings. The main focus may not necessarily be about your mental illness, but how your situation is affecting your emotions. Even if they are not able to relate to you with what you’re going through, explaining the feelings that you’ve been having will help them to understand. It’s important that to make sure that you’re comfortable when you’re having this conversation, set boundaries. This can be that there are certain times where you just want to explain things, or times when you want advice and support. Some people might already have their opinion on the topic or might say something insensitive that might trigger you, so making sure that you’re able to say everything when you need to will make the conversation more helpful.

 Another thing that you can talk about to help them to understand is to explain some situations where your mental illness has affected you. Whether it’s a lack of sleep or having no motivation, anything to help them see how your mental illness has been causing you stress will allow them to support you in the best ways. Also, if this is a topic that they aren’t aware of and can’t personally relate to, providing these examples of how your mental illness has affected your life will help them to understand it. And of course, this conversation doesn’t need to be negative, even though mental health is a serious topic, you can still talk about good things. For example, maybe talk about how getting diagnosed might have helped you to understand your own emotions, or how talking to them relieves some of the stress that you’re going through.

 Finally, suggesting some ways that they can help will give them guidance on the situation. Giving them ways where they know that they are needed would help them to understand how your mental illness is affecting you. Saying something like, “I’ve been so stressed, that it’s been affecting my ability to think. Can you tell me when I’m being irrational so I won’t regret my decisions?” or “I need to see a counsellor but I’m scared. Can you come with me to get an appointment and make sure that I follow through?” can really make sure that you get the support when you need it. Some people want to help, but don’t know how, so telling them directly will make them the most at ease.


And of course, if you’re not able to get the support that you need, you’re always able to contact us. You can text us at 587-333-2724, call us at 403-264-TEEN, or chat with us online.


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