Despite more open discussions, in many ways, mental health is still taboo.
Especially if you’re a parent, a man, or someone with a diagnosis that strays from the more commonly-accepted anxiety and depression.
If your mental health has a large bearing on your life and the way you live it, it may feel wrong not to share your diagnosis with a new partner – but that can feel intense.
‘It can feel scary talking about your mental health for the first time with a partner,’ Dr Elena, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic, tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Many people will feel quite vulnerable sharing the things they struggle with,’ she adds – and she’s right: sharing your mental health diagnosis can feel like baring a part of your soul only reserved for yourself and those closest to you.
But should you share it with a partner?
As Dr Elena notes it could be helpful for both of you and it’s a good opportunity to connect on a deeper level.
Not to mention, mental health issues can have an impact on how you act in relationships and the type of space or care you’ll need from a partner.
‘At the end of the day, it’s going to help your partner understand you better,’ she says.
‘By learning more about the things you struggle with, your past experiences and triggers, they’ll be able to support you in the way you need.’
Plus, Dr Elena adds, around one in four people experience a mental health issue every year.
‘Chances are, they know more than you think, whether that’s from first or second-hand experience,’ she says.
So, to the question of whether you should tell a new partner about your mental health condition, the answer is: probably, yes – but when, exactly, should you tell them?
‘There are no hard-and-fast rules,’ says Dr Elena.
‘While it’s probably not first date material (although there’s nothing wrong with sharing it then either if it feels right), I would avoid putting it off for too long.
‘It goes without saying that the right person will accept you for you.
‘The most important thing is to make sure that this is someone you feel safe with and trust.’
How to tell a new partner about a mental health issue without oversharing:
- If you’re nervous, it can help to prepare what you’re going to say in advance – write down some notes on a piece of paper or on your phone.
- Make sure you’re in a comfortable space – somewhere that you feel relaxed and safe and won’t be interrupted. Alternatively, if speaking face-to-face feels scary, going for a walk can feel less intimidating/formal.
- Calmly and clearly explain what it is you’re struggling with and how it impacts you day-to-day and in your relationships.
- Describe the steps you’re taking – if you’re in therapy at the moment, let them know.
- Let them know how they can best support you – bring resources, too, if you have any.
- Give them space to ask any questions.
Dr Elena Touroni, Psychologist
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