4 Tips for Adults to Cope with a Mental Health Diagnosis

TOUCH Mental Wellness

4 Tips for Adults to Cope with a Mental Health Diagnosis

Receiving a diagnosis for mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety in adulthood can be life changing. You may feel ashamed, disappointed or even relieved that you can put a name to what's wrong. You may be worried about how your family and friends will react, and how this mental health condition would fit into your life [1]. These reactions are valid as people can be diagnosed with a mental illness at any stage of life. 1 in 7 people in Singapore have dealt with a mental illness in their lifetime [2], so you are not alone in this experience.

With help and support, you can manage your symptoms and regain control of your life [3]. It is important to cope with the diagnosis in healthy manner so that you can move forward and continue living your day-to-day life to the fullest. Here are some ways you can successfully adapt with this change.

Take time to accept your diagnosis: It is fine if you are not yet ready to accept the situation. Give yourself enough time to process everything. Allow yourself to grieve so that you can welcome feelings of acceptance. Another part of accepting your diagnosis is moving past negative stereotypes that you have learnt over the years, as they would only make recovery more difficult [4]. Remember that your identity and value is not defined by your mental condition. After picking yourself back up again, you can start looking for ways to manage your symptoms.

Journaling your thoughts: Journaling your thoughts and concerns may help you to make sense of this diagnosis [1]. In addition to tracking your recovery process, penning down your thoughts will help your family and various professionals to understand what you're going through and know how to better support you.

Talk to a loved one: Identify family and friends who would support your journey to recovery by first telling them about your mental health condition. Approach them at an appropriate time and share the struggles that you faced leading up to the diagnosis. Your loved ones may have a lot of questions or react differently from what you expected, so try your best to keep them at ease. Understand that their reaction comes from a place of love and concern for your well-being. At this time, it is also helpful to tell your loved ones about how they can support you [4]. For example, you could request that family and friends only check up on you through text messages instead of phone calls.

Learn more about your mental health condition: The Internet readily provides information about your mental health condition. You may gain a better understanding of how the condition affects your daily life, its causes and overlooked symptoms. This way, you are more prepared for stressful situations where usual avenues of support are harder to access. The more you learn, the easier it gets for you to work with your family and various professionals to make the best decisions for yourself [3].

Find help from support groups: Joining a group of people who share the same struggles can help you understand your situation better. It also gives you an opportunity to bond and socialise with others. The support group can also provide you with tips that will help you manage more intense symptoms [5].

With love and support from the community, you can learn to live with your diagnosis while still being a functioning member of society. Instead of fixating on ending your diagnosis, you can focus on other activities that improve your well-being. If you need additional help, you can find out more here.

TOUCH Mental Wellness (TMW) runs personalised therapy and counselling programmes to empower individuals to rise above their circumstances. An advocate of mental wellness, TMW has been organising mental wellness awareness mass runs, talks and workshops since 2015. It works closely with corporations to conduct mental wellness talks with an aim of equipping employees with handles to cope with stress and help them build resilience. It also specialises in mental wellness awareness and educational programmes for schools.

1. When you're diagnosed with a mental health illness.” here to help, https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/infosheet/when-youre-diagnosed-with-a-mental-illness
2. Choo, Cynthia. “More People in Singapore Have Experienced a Mental Disorder in Their Lifetime, Study Finds.” TODAY, 11 Dec. 2018, https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/more-people-singapore-have-experienced-mental-disorder-their-lifetime-study-finds
3. “After a diagnosis.” Mental Health America, https://www.mhanational.org/after-diagnosis
4. Mizock, Lauren. “Five Tips to Accept a Mental Health Problem.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 27 Feb. 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/sg/blog/the-health-women/201702/five-tips-accept-mental-health-problem
5. Starkman, Evan. “What to Know When You're Newly Diagnosed with Depression.” WebMD, WebMD, 22 July 2021, https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/newly-diagnosed-depression