You get to decide how much you share
You started going to therapy, and you’re feeling a little bit of everything. You’re proud that you began to tend to your mental health. You’re determined to keep seeking support. You may also feel tender, vulnerable, or like you’re standing on shaky ground that is growing sturdier and sturdier by the second.
Once you start feeling more grounded in your new self-care practice, you may feel drawn to tell friends or loved ones about it. But knowing how to talk about mental health with friends isn’t easy. Plus, how others respond to your decision to go to therapy can impact you for better or worse.
Studies have actually found that certain conversations around mental health realities, like depression, can prove harmful if a person’s family, friends, or support groups aren’t actually supportive. So, first things first, you want to open up to someone who will encourage your new practice instead of questioning or judging your choices. No one needs that kind of energy!
So the next time you’re caught by surprise when someone outwardly asks if you’re going to therapy, we’ve got you covered. Here are some phrases to keep in your back pocket that’ll make it easier to know how to talk about mental health with friends.
The person asking: Someone who you don’t want to dive deep into therapy talk with
Back Pocket Response: “Thanks for asking, but I’d rather not talk about my mental health. How’s your dog doing?”
Maybe they have a dog, maybe they don’t, but the key is to ask a question that turns the conversation away from you and onto them. You get to set boundaries in any relationship and with any topic. You can decide you don’t want to chat with someone about this personal topic. To paraphrase many a powerful person who has once said, “No is a complete sentence.”
The person asking: Someone you love who you aren’t ready to share with just yet
Back Pocket Response: “Hey, thanks for asking. I really appreciate you caring about my mental health. I’m not ready to talk about therapy right now, but whenever I am, it means a lot to know you’ll be there to listen.”
Take stock of the person you’re talking to and how they have traditionally supported you. If they’ve always been on Team You, but you’re not yet ready to dive into the deets, it’s okay to thank them for always being in your corner and still give them “eh, not right now.” as a response.
The person asking: A loved one who has historically been more judgemental of your decisions
Back Pocket Response: “We are probably not going to see eye to eye on this topic, so I’d rather not dive into it. Let’s talk about something else instead.”
Listen, no one’s support system is perfect. We all have family members who like to have their opinions heard no matter how they will land. You can still love these individuals while also protecting yourself and your mental well-being.
The person asking: Someone who wants to start therapy themselves and has all the questions to ask about your experience
Back Pocket Response: “I keep most of what I talk about specifically in therapy private, but ask me anything about the general process. I’m here for you.” Or: “I’m not in a space to deep dive right now, but I can send you this great article I read on Calm about the different kinds of therapy if that’s helpful.”
We are here for you, check out that link and you’ll find an article that breaks down some of the most common types of therapies. The most important part of how you answer this question is to consider your emotional bandwidth first. Think about whether you can handle answering all the questions or if it makes more sense to your mental health to pass a link along. It’s not selfish to protect your own well-being. You can be supportive without being their only source of support.
The person asking: Someone who is one of your safest places
Back Pocket Response: “Let me tell you what I learned in therapy…”
While you never, ever have to share what you talk about in therapy (or even that you go to therapy at all), once you start, you may want to talk to a best friend or partner about all the big awakenings you’re having. Share anything and everything you want to share, and remember that just because you share once doesn’t mean you must keep sharing. You get to decide when to open and close that door!
Therapy is such a personal process that you should be proud of tackling. Once you’re enjoying having an hour of dedicated time to your mental health, you get to decide how that hour trickles into the rest of your life.
Calm Health is a mental health wellness product. Calm Health is not intended to diagnose or treat depression, anxiety, or any other disease or condition. Calm Health is not a substitute for care by a physician or other health care provider. Any questions that you may have regarding the diagnosis, care, or treatment of a medical condition should be directed to your physician or health care provider.