When to Reveal Mental Illness to a New Friend
It is often difficult to know when to tell new friends about our mental illness, or even one that a family member suffers due to mental health stigma. Many people who face stigma are judged by others, especially when making new friends, but it can still be important to be honest about your mental illness and reveal it as soon as you are comfortable.
Your illness is just that though -- it is yours, and you don't need to reveal it to anyone if you don't want to. Sometimes, though, despite that we can face stigma, revealing your mental illness to a new friend can actually help the friendship (Dating Rules for Revealing a Mental Illness). In other cases, revealing your mental illness, sadly, can end it -- but one has to consider how good a friend a person like this really could have been.
Hurt by a 'Friend' When Revealing Mental Illness
If a person is not able to accept your mental illness and you, as a person, to start a friendship because of stigma, you have to consider that this person may continue to judge you in other ways and not give you the care and support that friendships are all about.
Something I do know from my own experience is that a large percentage of people in our modern society actually don't stigmatize people with mental illnesses and will applaud you for being honest about bravely facing stigma to reveal your mental illness. Many times I have revealed to people I know and others who I want to form friendships with that I have a mental illness and they ended up admitting to me that they, themselves, have a mental illness or one of their family members do.
I feel in the case of not knowing when to reveal your mental illness to a friend, you have to remember that mental illness affects a great deal of people. Some studies show that as many as one in four to one in five people will have a mental illness needing treatment at some point in their lives. Those who continue to feed the stigma that exists surrounding mental illness may not realize that they or a family member may be a sufferer of mental illness themselves one day.
Gregersen, L. (2017, April 14). When to Reveal Mental Illness to a New Friend, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, May 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2017/04/stigma-and-friendships-when-to-reveal-your-mental-illness