Despite the fact that mental health issues are fairly common, the topic itself can still seem pretty taboo. Some people find it really difficult to talk about, and many worry about the judgment or criticism they might face when sharing their mental health struggles. But overcoming these hurdles is important — not only for reducing mental health stigma, but also for getting the support you need from the people you love. Learn more about the intersection of ADHD and mental health and how to talk to your loved ones about it.

Why Mental Health Matters with ADHD

ADHD and mental health go hand in hand, and it’s important to be aware of the connection between the two. For example, did you know that people with ADHD are more likely to experience a mental health problem? The incidence rates for the following mental health problems are higher among people who have ADHD:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Sleep problems
  • Conduct disorder

If you have ADHD, you’ll want to pay extra attention to any possible warning signs of these problems so you can address them as soon as possible. Being aware of your risk for these types of mental health problems is also useful for distinguishing them from your ADHD symptoms. You may be tempted to pass off any problems with irritability and trouble concentrating as part of your ADHD, for example. However, these can also be symptoms of depression. By understanding your own increased risk of mental health problems, you’ll be better equipped to recognize when you need help.

Dealing with Mental Health Stigma

Just like ADHD stigma is still relatively common, so is mental health stigma. There are people with fears of or outdated views about mental health, and some representations of mental health problems in the media are far from accurate. This contributes to negative views or stereotypes of people who are struggling with their mental health.

The potential effects of mental health stigma are very harmful. Some examples of these effects include:

  • Low self-esteem or feelings of hopelessness
  • Worsened psychiatric symptoms
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Fewer professional and social opportunities
  • Reluctance to seek help or get treatment

Tips for Discussing Mental Health

If you’re struggling with your mental health, you need to talk about it. That doesn’t mean you need to tell the whole world, of course. But talking to at least a few close loved ones can help you find the support you need to get through it. While you might be afraid to discuss it with those closest to you, the alternative of dealing with it all by yourself is just as daunting.

Not sure where to start? Use the following tips to talk to your loved ones about your mental health:

  • Pick the place. This is private health information, so it’s okay to be picky about where you feel comfortable sharing it. You might want total privacy in a quiet room, or maybe you want to talk about it while riding in the car where you don’t have the added pressure of making eye contact. Decide how and where you wish to talk to your loved one, then take steps to set it up.
  • Figure out what to say first. Mental health problems can be very complex, but to get things started, try to focus on a simple statement. For example, you could say, “I haven’t been feeling like myself” or “I’ve been really struggling lately.” Having a sentence in mind as your “opener” can help you get the conversation started.
  • Share your symptoms. People sometimes feel like they’ll be brushed off when talking about a mental health problem. Therefore, it’s helpful to explain how serious the impacts are. Tell your loved one about some of the symptoms which have affected you the most to make sure they understand that this is a serious issue for you.
  • Offer ideas for how to help. Some people aren’t sure how to react when receiving information about a loved one’s mental health struggles. One way to help move the conversation forward is to ask for support in specific ways. Let them know how they can help, like sending a daily check-in text or driving you to therapy appointments.

In addition to talking to your loved ones to get their emotional support, it’s just as important to get support from a healthcare provider. Talk to your primary care physician or a licensed clinician if you’re concerned about your mental health.