Privacy is a popular theme. This is quite remarkable since we live in a society where everything is shared through social media. We’re used to sharing pictures, thoughts, feelings, opinions, music preferences and personal relationships through all kinds of social channels. The question is: how does the concept of privacy relate to our mental well-being?

Are you open about your mental problems?

Do you ever stop and think about the things you want and the things you don’t want to share with the people surrounding you, employers or acquaintances? Some people with mental health issues have difficulties sharing the psychological problems they encounter. There’s always a possibility people don’t react the way you want them to. It can also affect your work and the way your employer sees you. For example: what if your employer decides to not extend your contract because you have been transparent about your mental health issues? Do you discuss psychological problems with your new employer? Is it necessary to be open about your complaints? Openness can cause a connection and it will remind you of the fact that you do not stand alone. Nevertheless, it’s important to think about the things you do and the things you don’t want to share with the people around you and how you do this.

What is the purpose of being open?

As a psychologist I often get questions from clients: “should I discuss my psychological problems with my friends, family or co-workers?”. An important question to ask yourself: what’s the reason I want to be more open? Is it so I can share my story and blow off some steam? Do I want to feel more connected to the other person? Is it important for the other one to know about problems I can experience in the workplace? Do I feel the pressure to be open about my complaints (in other words: would I lie if I am not transparent)? If you asked yourself this question you will find it is easier to make a decision to share the psychological distress you’re experiencing. On top of that you can ask yourself: do I want to give the detailed version or the shortened version of my story? For example: when you’re having a drink with co-workers you could say you don’t drink alcohol because you are working towards a healthier lifestyle in case you don’t want to share you’re a recovering alcohol addict. This is an example of sharing the short version of your story.

It’s an unfortunate fact that not everyone’s reaction about your mental illness is going to be supportive. We still live in a society that stigmatizes mental illness. It comes from internalized stigma which causes people to react in an ignorant and insensitive way. There is a chance that you will feel rejected by others. In this case it may help you to look at your own feelings about your mental health before you subject yourself to the ideas of others. Try to ask yourself: what does the stigma say about the other? There is a possibility that this person is not the one you need to be surrounded with. Hopefully you will meet people that will be more supportive in the long run.

It is always a risk to expose yourself in a vulnerable situation but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. It’s important to stay in control and ask yourself relevant questions before being open about yourself.

NiceDay app

Do you also want to get started with, for example, learning to be vulnerable? Then download the NiceDay app. For example, you can use the app to set goals with regard to assignments: you can learn step by step how to make yourself more vulnerable.

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Sarah Goslinga

My name is Sarah Goslinga, psychologist and coach at NiceDay. It's important to me that you have a real connection with your coach and that you feel you can discuss anything. There are many different things I like to do, such as making music, roller skating or dancing!

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