The Benefits of Talking With Your Friends About Mental Health

Navigating one’s own mental health is an ever-changing spectrum. The last two years have impacted us all in various ways. Community and support is CRUCIAL in navigating challenging times, and having friends to openly share struggles with can be incredibly healing. That said, it is important to ensure our friendships are mutually beneficial, and are serving both individuals involved. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of being open with your friends on your mental health, no matter how challenging or uncomfortable it may initially be. 

being open about mental health

Talking about mental health helps you process your own thoughts and reduce stigma

It can be easy to get overwhelmed or lost in our own thoughts. This leads us to feeling scrambled, unclear, and uncertain. We may then repress our thoughts and feelings because they’re “too much” to acknowledge and deal with. Simply recognizing our thoughts and speaking them aloud can be incredibly beneficial in obtaining clarity on what is truly going on. Getting something off of your chest, and simply speaking about it to a trusted friend that can be a sounding board can help give you a sense of peace. 

I understand this is hard. Your thoughts and feelings are your own. They can be dark. They can be daunting. They can seem unmanageable. It isn’t easy to simply “open up” and share them with friends, no matter how close your friendship may be. How can you start to move past the initial fear you may feel surrounding having this conversation? Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Registered Yoga Teacher, and founder of Move Therapy and Wellness Laura Dziekiewicz offers great insight. 

“Remember that EVERYONE has mental health. And EVERYONE struggles with mental health at some point in life. EVERYONE,” emphasizes Dziekiewicz. “It is part of life and part of being human.” And everything from family relationships to burnout can impact our mental health, she notes. 

“If you are afraid or uncomfortable in talking about mental health/sharing that you are struggling, start small and start with someone who you trust/someone who makes you feel safe,” she recommends.

Start small. Give yourself grace. Give those who love you the opportunity to show up for you in the best way they know how. 

Being open about mental health allows you to deepen your friendships. 

It’s mutually important to ensure others feel comfortable in coming to you with potentially challenging thoughts and conversations, if you have the emotional bandwidth to best show up for them as well. Holding space for a friend going through a hard time is a wonderful way to serve others, and move beyond oneself and one’s own struggles. There are many ways you can “show up” to support a friend here.

“Know that being physically present is incredibly powerful,” Dziekiewicz points out. “Being available to talk about emotional struggles is important but sometimes it’s even more impactful to just BE with your friend who is struggling. Allow your friend to share whatever feels comfortable for them. Don’t push and don’t try to fix or offer solutions.”

Simply letting others know you are here, they are heard, and their feelings matter is a wonderful way to begin. 

Being open about your own challenges strengthens connection within your community. 

Let’s discuss the importance of community and connection. Community and connection are VITAL. Human beings need other humans. We are pack creatures and we are not meant to navigate this world alone. 

“We are social beings, we are wired to connect and we thrive in community,” explains Dziekiewicz. “Connection to others promotes a sense of belonging, purpose, acceptance and self worth which are all important aspects of mental wellbeing. People who feel more connected to others actually have decreased symptoms and/or lower rates of anxiety and depression.”

The past two years have left us more isolated and disconnected than ever before, making it imperative to find ways to connect. Finding your people is incredibly healing. Finding those you feel safe with and supported will be transformative in your journey. It’s easier said than done, especially when you may be stuck in a current environment or situation where you feel lonelier and more lost than ever before. 

Start small. Take steps towards places and situations that feel like “home.” Try a new class, go to a new coffee shop, build the confidence to go back and you may just see familiar faces, whether that be the workers or frequent visitors. From there, you can slowly start to have conversations that may initially seem trivial in nature, but can blossom into beautiful friendships. 

“Remember that community and connection does not look the same for everyone and it does not always look the same throughout various stages of life,” Dziekiewicz says. “Find ways to connect that feel authentic and most helpful to you right now and be open to change.”

Recognize that opening up to those closest to you about mental health is no easy feat. Once you begin to take your armor off, let your guard down, and share challenges you may be facing, you are allowing those who love and support you to show up for you in the way they best know how. Opening up about your own mental health helps reduce stigma, allows for you to deepen friendships, and allows for you to feel more connected and grounded within your own community. It’s not always going to be easy, but you owe it to yourself and those you love to explore ways to best support one another as we navigate this ever-changing journey of life together. 

Mental Health Think & Feel

About Lauren Scheuneman

Lauren graduated from Loyola Chicago in 2018, with a BA in Advertising and Public Relations and began her career in paid media working across health accounts. She has always been incredibly passionate about the health and wellness space and is constantly searching for ways to merge her passion points with her day to day work. She believes we are all lifelong learners, and all just trying to “figure it out,” and is often reminding herself to enjoy the journey rather than focusing on the destination! Lauren focuses on the “360 approach” to wellness and the mind-body connection. She believes we are all our best selves and do our best work when we do so with passion, and are able to use our own strengths to lift each other up. She absolutely loves group fitness classes (and is always up for trying something new!) as she greatly values the importance of community and loves bringing people together.

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