How would you react if someone discolses a mental health problem to you? This week's podcast will help you handle the unexpected. #mentalillness #stopthestigma #mentalhealthawareness #selfcare #friends #mentalwholeness #SelfCareSunday #podcast #disclosure #anxiety #anorexia #bipolar #depression

How would you react if someone discolses a mental health problem to you? This week’s podcast will help you handle the unexpected.

What Would You Do if Someone Discloses a Mental Health Problem to You?

“I have diabetes,” my friend said when I offered her a cookie.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said. “That must be difficult.”

She shrugged. “I’ve gotten used to it. It’s not my favorite thing, but I can control it with diet and exercise.”

“I had gestational diabetes,” I told her. “It took months before I could handle the finger pricks without grossing out.”

She laughed. “Oh, me, too!”

We went back to our teacher’s lunchroom conversation about upcoming events and schedules. Her disclosure didn’t bother me at all. In fact, it helped me understand her better and adapt my behavior so I could act as a better friend to her.

If only we had the same reaction to someone who discloses a mental health problem to us! “I have diabetes” sounds so much easier to handle than “I have bipolar disorder,” “I feel suicidal,” or “I’m so depressed.” If someone discloses a mental health problem on this scale, we want to run for the hills.

Ok, you may not want to run for the hills, but I’ve had a few people disclose mental health problems to me and my initial reaction has always involved running and staying away as long as possible. God has given me to foresight to not follow my inclinations. He’s also helped me see I don’t have to have that kind of a knee-jerk reaction.

As a society, we’re getting better at talking about mental health problems. One out of five adults in the United States will experience a mental illness or mental health problem during their lifetime. If you and your spouse invite eight people over for dinner, two of them have probably struggled with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, suicidal ideation, or one of the other 200 mental illnesses recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.

The Mind is Just Another Organ

Our brains can get sick, just like the rest of our organs and systems. In order to keep them healthy, we need to take care of past traumas and take good care of our mental wholeness. We can also do our part to normalize mental health problems by sharing our experiences with others and calling out people who shame those who suffer.

You don’t have to have a counseling degree to know what to do if someone discloses a mental health problem to you. The first time a student shared with me their suicidal thoughts, I stayed with her until help arrived. She didn’t want me to fix her problem, she wanted me to help her take the next step.

Listen to today’s podcast for more tips on what to do if someone discloses a mental health problem to you.

Show Notes

The National Alliance on Mental Illness has wonderful information about how prevalent mental illness is in the United States.

How would you react if someone discolses a mental health problem to you? This week's podcast will help you handle the unexpected. #mentalillness #stopthestigma #mentalhealthawareness #selfcare #friends #mentalwholeness #SelfCareSunday #podcast #disclosure #anxiety #anorexia #bipolar #depression
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  1. “The mind is just another organ.” Yes. I wish we could learn to accept a mental diagnosis as readily as we do a physical one. I have an extended young family member with a possible mental disorder. I’m praying her family will consider getting psychological help as easily as they would get help from their gp.
    Lisa notes recently posted…The Greatest of These Is Love {Mantra 20}My Profile

  2. Anita, I first had to chuckle because my immediate reaction to such disclosures is also to run. It made me chuckle because I have dedicated much of my work to sharing my own bipolar journey and helping to destigmatize mental health issues in general. Yet, even myself, a person who wants to help others through these processes, my natural inclination is still to run away. I resist it of course when someone is truly in need. But I also have to maintain a proper balance between helping others with their mental health issues and not allowing it set my own mental health off balance. Another wonderful post! Thank you for doing the work you do, my friend.


  3. So true, the person often doesn’t reveal their mental health problems because they think you can fix it, but to get some support, maybe even a nudge to see someone, or the reassurance that this problem doesn’t make them less of a person. We do have to be careful how we respond because we may be adding more trauma to them if we are insensitive. Sometimes people’s reluctance to seek therapy, can be so deep and have to do with their family’s thoughts on counseling. They may need lots of encouragement to even entertain the thought because in their family counseling or seeking help is associated with shame, with being weak, with a telling of family secrets. I have one such friend like this I have been trying for years to get her to talk to someone, but she can’t get past the family conditioning of all counselors are bad and going to them is shameful.
    Theresa+Boedeker recently posted…Don’t Bite the Bait: How to Respond to CriticismMy Profile

  4. I think we want to run in the face of such disclosures because we don’t know what to do or say in response. Thank you for your transparency on this topic — it’s helped take some of the mystery out of mental health issues and helped us see them as any other illness.
    Barbara Harper recently posted…What Can We Know For Sure?My Profile

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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