Do you have any suggestions about appropriate conversation or not appropriate topics or questions? If someone discloses a mental illness, what are some questions that could be asked or avoided?
I’ll answer this question in two parts. First, with my opinions on how I would like someone to talk to me when I disclose my mental illness, and second, with some general advice on how to approach someone who has disclose their mental illness.
When I tell someone about my mental illnesses, I really don’t mind answering any question about them. If I didn’t want to talk about my mental illness or be asked questions about it, I never would have brought it up in the first place.
In fact, not too long ago I let a friend know I was seeing my therapist in the morning, and later, when I saw him, he asked me about it. I told him, and we talked for a bit about it. And, if I didn’t want to talk about it, I simply would have said so.
From my perspective, I really don’t feel like anything is off limits. I’d like to have people look at mental illness like they would any other illness. If you’re wondering what kind of questions to ask someone, think about what you would ask someone about a physical illness. Would you ask about what treatments they were receiving? How they were feeling? How things are going in general?
If you think a question would have been appropriate about a physical illness, it would probably be appropriate for a mental illness.
My opinions don’t apply to everyone, so here’s some general advice. First, consider your relationship with the person. If you feel you’re very close friends, you can probably ask more personal questions.
As for other advice, here are some summaries and links for excellent resources on talking to a person with mental illness. Consider the goal you have for the conversation, whether it’s just to offer support, or if you want to help the person get help.
Here’s an article that gives some good information on communicating with someone who has a mental illness: Communicating with People with Mental Illness. The main takeaway from this article is to be honest and to be truthful.
Here’s another good article about approaching someone with mental illness: For Friends and Family Members - MentalHealth.gov. This is probably my favorite resource to share for someone who’s wondering how they could reach out to a person struggling with mental health. This article does a nice job of providing advice on giving support, offering help, or talking to someone about mental health.
I hope these resources are helpful for those unsure about how to talk to someone about mental health issues. If you have any other questions or specific questions about this topic, comment, send me a private message, or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.