How Does Disclosing Mental Health Challenges Through Peer Support Help With Mental Health Recovery?

peer support mental health recovery

“Disclosure is never easy. Disclosing and listening to other peers through peer support is helpful in gaining wisdom and a sense of community as you journey through mental health recovery.”

Should I Disclose My Mental Health Struggles?

 

This is a question often asked by peers – or persons with the lived experience of mental health conditions. Disclosure is sometimes viewed as a double-edged sword; capable of inciting both positive and negative outcomes.

 

An article by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) highlights that disclosure may lead an individual to be seen as ‘incapable’, because of the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. Conversely, disclosure also allows others to see one’s strength and resilience, and the value in having mental health lived experiences and overcoming challenges.

 

During Circle of WE – a group-based peer support session, these sentiments were shared by RC peers, who spoke about how they broke the barrier on disclosing their mental health challenges to their loved ones.

 

Through the exchange of unique perspectives on the benefits and challenges of disclosure, peers in the RC community can better understand and support each other, thus, promoting resilience building and empowerment as they journey as a community. 

 

Have a read about their insights:

The Concerns of Disclosure – Perspectives from Our Peers

mental health recovery

“How do we actually disclose without getting judged? How do I make disclosure comfortable for both parties – so they’d know how to help as well?”

Disclosure is often accompanied with heavy fear and anxiety, due to prevailing stigma of mental health conditions and fear of judgement. There may also be worries of “creating a suffocating environment” when disclosing to close friends and family.

 

These concerns are valid and real. However, just as we are looking out for our loved ones’ wellbeing, they would also want to show their care and support towards us. Fostering understanding and letting them in begins with disclosure.

 

“How do you pick yourself up after a bad experience with disclosure? What can you do to start disclosing to others again?”

 

Disclosing mental health challenges or conditions may elicit a feared outcome. As such, one may feel hesitant to disclose again, essentially creating a barrier between disclosure and non-disclosure. However, non-disclosure also prevents us from attaining better support and resources.

 

One of our peers shared that, “It is good for peers to come together to be frank about their challenges when disclosing to a doctor or other medical professionals, so that people know how to help us.”

 

To navigate through the discomfort that comes with disclosure, our peers suggest “disclosing when feeling safe, around people who you trust.” In addition, considering the benefits of disclosure may also make us more open towards the sharing of mental health challenges, and accepting others’ sharing.

The Benefits of Disclosure – Perspectives from Our Peers

community mental health

“Mental health challenges actually change us to be better. I see having a mental health condition as an added advantage for shaping our own character and personality.”

 

In Singapore, stigma remains prevalent. In 2018, a study by IMH revealed that nearly 50% of 940 youths polled associated negative and derogatory terms to people with mental health conditions. One reason for this could be due to a lack of understanding of mental health conditions.

 

Disclosure can promote greater understanding of the value of lived experiences. As such, labels and misconceptions can be challenged, gradually leading to the deconstruction of stigma.

 

“We disclose for our loved ones to understand and support us, not for pity or to be identified only through our mental health conditions.”

 

Not everyone will understand what it is like to live with a mental health condition. Friends and family may struggle to show their support. Thus, through disclosure, one can communicate their needs to the ones they trust and share how they would like to be supported, leading to better help and resources.

 

“Disclosure feels like getting something off your chest. If you disclose to the right people, they may be able to help you, or share in your experiences. As a result, your self-disclosure empowers both of you, and you can journey toward mental health recovery together.”

 

We are never alone in our mental health challenges. When disclosing during peer support sessions, someone within the group may have been in a similar situation. As such, they can offer their wisdom, and inspire others who may be struggling. In turn, disclosure is a process where peers are reassured with a sense of safety and community as they navigate through recovery.

Closing Thoughts from Our Peers

  • We are in this together. No one is alone.
  • It’s okay to disclose about mental health, depending on the situation.
  • It’s okay to not disclose if it is not safe, no pressure.
  • We need to decide for ourselves whether we choose to disclose our mental health conditions. Is it for practical, personal, or family reasons?

Though disclosure may be scary and at first, it does have its benefits. It is important to take note of who we are disclosing to, and how much we are comfortable to share.

 

Disclosing to someone we trust is a good way to lighten the burden on our shoulders. During peer support sessions, it also allows us to connect to others who may be experiencing the same struggles. As such, we can empower one another and journey together towards mental health recovery.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.