These Conversation Tips About Mental Health Could Help Change Someone’s Life

Starting a family conversation about mental health is just as important as a conversation about physical health.

By Madeline Merinuk
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Mental health is not only something that should be top of mind for you, but it's good to consider when looking out for friends and family as well. One in five Americans experiences a mental illness in any given year and about 10 million Americans live with a serious mental illness, so there's no reason to be shy about starting the conversation. But still, if you're having trouble knowing where to start, these conversations tips about mental health could seriously come in handy.

Dan Pelino, a mental health advocate and author of Trusted Healers, joined former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy on The Dr. Oz Show on Oct. 28, 2019 and explained how to approach the conversation about mental health, and how to prevent issues in the future.

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Start a Conversation Without Shame or Blame

According to Pelino, one of the main things to keep in mind while starting any conversation that addresses mental health is to eliminate any trace of shame or blame in your tone and to approach the topic carefully. If you are struggling with mental health issues yourself, Pelino says that you have to make a personal commitment to yourself in order to see results, and the desire to treat the issue has to come from within.

This goes without saying for anyone, but if you know someone who is struggling with mental illness or addiction, you can be a help in convincing them to seek treatment and help, says Pelino. Starting these conversations, whether it be for yourself or someone you love, with a trusted family member or friend is also ideal.

Get a Check-Up From the Neck Up

Pelino says that, after having a conversation with someone you trust, you need to consult your doctor for additional support and tips on how to move forward. You have to treat mental illness just like you would treat any other health issue; you should be proactive about seeking treatment at the first sign something's wrong, he says. Consulting services outside of your primary care doctor, like therapy, are beneficial for everyone, but especially for people who are suffering from addiction or other mental illness-related issues. 

Come Up With a Plan of Action & Commit to It

This sounds like a simple task, but for many people, the thought of having to talk to a doctor or therapist about their looming mental health issues can be a challenge. However, no one's illness — mental or physical — ever got cured by sitting and waiting, so taking some action is required. Pelino recommends abiding by the advice of your primary care doctor and following up frequently to ensure the highest rate of success. In addition to these treatments, keeping a positive conversation alive and offering support can be extremely beneficial if you are a person who knows someone experiencing any of these types of issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

Mental health and addiction are topics that people tend to push to the wayside, but starting and keeping the conversation alive about these topics can increase visibility about these issues, which will help end the still existing negative stigma about mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or other mental health issues, Pelino's tips can help get you or a loved one on the track to recovery. You are not alone in this fight, and with these tips, you can find avenues of support and treatment. 

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Article written by Madeline Merinuk