Sometimes, it is difficult for parents to grasp the topic of mental health. They often harbour a grow-out-of-mental-illness mindset. It is not because they are ignorant but because of what has been inflicted upon them.
They have been brought up in a stringent household with a set of rules and bigoted ideologies that are deeply ingrained in their minds. They are wired to accept prejudices, live stereotypical lives and are made to work hard to meet overreaching standards of society. And as a result of fear and stigma, they dismiss important issues such as mental health. But they can’t be entirely blamed for this.
If you try talking to your parents about any mental health condition you are facing, their first instinct could be to get defensive. Applying a stigmatised label to an issue can be quite alarming and disturbing for them, for they might fear judgement and estrangement from society, which regards topics related to mental health with shame. Consecutively, this may encourage them to completely brush off your possible mental issue and turn a blind eye to the symptoms you may be showing.
Before anything, you need to keep in mind not everything can be done with the snap of fingers. Some things take time — just like getting your parents to understand the gravity of mental health issues. Surely, we can find many avenues to catch their attention to such topics, such as bringing them to campaigns, and familiarising them with people who had faced mental health conditions in the past and are now on their path of healing.
But everything aside, the most important way that I find necessary is by having a one-to-one talk with them. So buckle up to have a vulnerable conversation with them. It’s not going to be an easy and smooth ride but one full of bumps during which you will sometimes have to veer off track and try a different approach.
You might be met with reluctance or feel misunderstood but don’t give up. Your parents are new to this topic and not equipped for all of this. While you may feel that everything you say is falling flat to their ears, on the inside, they might be feeling overwhelmed and fighting their own inner battle from the onslaught of all the information. So, never let your patience run thin with them.
In the beginning, you might face turbulence, but eventually and surely they will come around and get you the help you need.