If you have recently received a diagnosis of a mental illness then you might feel concerned about experiencing the stigma surrounding your particular problem. Mental illness in general can be an issue that people rarely discuss and you might worry that it will affect people’s perception of you. It is rarely mandatory that you must tell people about your mental illness outside of the medical field but it is something to consider.
There might be people in your life such as friends and loved ones who you might not feel ready to tell about your mental illness. If you are worried about their reaction and the possibility that they will feel scared, hurt or distressed then you can wait for the right time. Ideally, your family and closest friends should eventually know about your issues so that they can better understand you and support you.
Disclosing your mental health issues can feel intimidating but there are many positive reasons why you should share what you are dealing with. For one thing you might receive encouragement and acceptance that will help you feel like less of an outsider. It may feel alienating to have a mental health problem but if your family and friends can show you that they still love you it can help you build confidence.
Talking to other people about what you are going through can also help reduce the stress that you experience as a result of your mental illness. Keeping your symptoms to yourself or constantly trying to hide them will only add to your general stress level. Having people to confide in about your situation can be a very effective coping mechanism in difficult times.
Telling Family and Friends
In general, it might be a good idea to tell people that you live with about your situation. Close family members who live in the household with you might want to know what is going on if they notice any of your behavior. Letting people in your home know about the diagnosis can help them make sense of any problems you currently have or have dealt with in the past.
The first people that you tell should be those that you trust the most with your personal information who you know will be discreet and sympathetic. Siblings, parents and close friends are likely to be the most supportive and understanding. Your parents may be worried and concerned about your well-being but it is important for them to know so that they can support you and be there in case something happens and you need assistance.
You don’t necessarily need to tell everyone in your family if there is someone you don’t live with or don’t see very often. If there is someone in your family who you believe won’t be compassionate or will be harsh about the situation then you can avoid dealing with them for your own peace of mind. You can keep the information within your close circle of people you trust especially in the beginning when you are still in recovery.
Choosing Who to Tell
When it comes to the people outside of your inner circle you might need to weigh the pros and cons about telling someone about your mental illness. You can also consider the pros and cons of not telling them as both situations will have benefits and drawbacks. Thinking everything through beforehand can make you feel more certain that you’ve made the right decision about who to tell.
It is important to keep in mind that not everyone will know how to handle the news that you have a diagnosis. Some people are going to have more emotional understanding and sensitivity about it than others. Some can be supportive and provide you help and guidance while others might be confused and afraid or even try to distance themselves from you if they aren’t able to handle it.
You will need to be very careful about who you disclose your mental illness to at work. It is important to understand your civil rights at work in relation to your mental health condition. Legally your boss and coworkers are not allowed to discriminate against you based on any type of disability including a mental illness. If there are certain accommodations that you need at work you might need to disclose this to your boss so that you can perform your job effectively.
It is up to your discretion to decide who in your personal life needs to know about your mental illness. Make sure to be cautious and exercise self-care so that you feel supported and loved in spite of any challenges you are facing. In most cases, you will have a positive experience and eventually will feel more comfortable in being honest about your situation.