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Image by Andrea Tummons

Opening Up

Opening up and talking about how you're feeling, what you're going through and asking for help can seem terrifying. It is a daunting prospect and takes a lot of strength to share something that can make us feel so vulnerable.

However, it is important that we do, not least so that we can get the support we need. Consider some of the below points about opening up:


It can come as a relief to open up. Even though it can feel scary, after having bottled up how you've been feeling it can be liberating to be honest about the struggles you've experienced.

The Right Person

Find the right person to open up to. Opening up doesn't have to be straight to a doctor or a 'person of responsibility'. You need to find someone you can trust, and who you feel comfortable sharing with. This could be a friend, a teacher, a family member - the list is infinite.

You can also engage with charities like the Samaritans to open up to someone who is external to your life.

Write it Down

Before speaking to someone, try writing down what you want to say first. If you're worried about finding the right words, jot them down first. You can also consider opening up via non face-to-face interactions. Looking someone in the eyes and telling them something deeply personal isn't easy. A phone call, email exchange or text exchange can be an alternative method than a live conversation.

Encouraging Others

When we open up, it can encourage others to open up too. Often the reason we don't share our mental health experiences is the fear that we are the 'odd one out', and that no one else is experiencing these challenges. However, statistically speaking, that is highly unlikely. So, when we share our story and seek support, we might encourage someone who is struggling to do the same, even without knowing it.

What Next

Opening up doesn't have to lead to anything you're not comfortable with. Telling a friend or family member you're having a difficult time or suspect you may have a mental health condition isn't a fast track into formal, medical care. The act of opening up can enable people to support you in informal ways, and provide you with the confidence to seek further treatment.

It is worth being aware of the Mental Health Act, however, which can be enacted for your safety. You can be 'sectioned' under the Mental Health Act only if;

  • you need to be assessed or treated for your mental health problem

  • your health would be at risk of getting worse if you did not get treatment

  • your safety or someone else's safety would be at risk if you did not get treatment

  • your doctor thinks you need to be assessed or treated in hospital, for example if you need to be monitored very regularly because you have to take new or very powerful medication. Otherwise, you may be asked to attend a hospital out-patient clinic.

You can take a look at the easy-to-read NHS guide on the Mental Health Act here.

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