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Mental health

Hi Sam,
I have lots of mental health problems. I have OCD and schizophrenia and I am taking medication for depression and anxiety.
I haven't told my friends, I want to, but I am scared what they will think of me, I don't want them to change their attitude towards me.
I don't know how to tell them. Sometimes when I struggle with things they look at me as if I'm mad, they think they know me but they barely understand me
I don't know what to do and I'm scared.
Help me please.
Ask Sam

Sam

Hi

It sounds like you want to let your friends know about your mental health problems so they can get to know you better and begin to understand what things are like for you at the moment. You deserve to be able to get support and reassurance from your friends, but I can hear that you are scared of their possible reactions.

Unfortunately sometimes people struggle to understand what it really means to have a mental health problem and that may mean they don’t immediately react the way you hope. It might be that they have a lot of questions, or they might be unsure what to say, or scared by what you tell them. You could help prepare yourself for his by writing down all the ways your friends might react and how you could respond – that might help you feel more prepared.

One option would be to show your friends some information about OCD, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety so they have a clear idea of what you mean. The mental health page in Explore would be a good place to start. The Epic friends website has got some great advice about supporting friends with mental health problems. There’s also a brilliant website called “Time to Change” which aims to tackle some of the stigma and misinformation about mental health problems.

You might decide to start by speaking to just one or two friends first, to make it feel less pressured. You could think about who would be the most supportive and understanding so that you can feel more confident about having a positive experience of sharing. Maybe also consider where you will speak to them. You could do it at school, at home, or a place in town. Choose somewhere where you will feel comfortable and where you can have some privacy. If you think it might be hard to know how to start the conversation face to face, you could writing a few things down in a text or an email first.

You could ring ChildLine or login for a 1-2-1 to talk through your feelings, or to practice what you might want to say to your friends. The counsellors would also be happy to talk to you afterwards, if you feel like talking about how it went. Another place to get some support is the messageboard, where you can read about other young people’s experiences of mental health problems, and post your own thoughts and comments.

Take good care

Sam

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