Some supervisors are more supportive and helpful than others. The ones who aren't supportive, are often expected by their own supervisors to at least make the attempt to be supportive by talking with their direct reports about their work and potential issues they may have. Usually this is because trying to be proactive and approach them directly when problems first arise is met with avoidance or unsupportive feedback.
However, when your supervisor asks "How are things are going?", and things aren't going well, you really only have two options, neither of which are particularly helpful to the situation.
(1) You answer "Great, no problems!" which ends the conversation, but doesn't get you any support in solving the problem, and prevents you from being open and honest with them. Or,
(2) You answer "Not great, I'm having this issue...." after which you describe the problem, perhaps some of your ideas in how you've been trying solve it, maybe solicit advice on what they might do in a similar situation, or admit that you're stuck. At this point, this unsupportive supervisor responds "I don't know" or, "I don't want to hear about problems or any complaints" or worse yet "This is your fault, why are you in this situation?" None of which helps, and certainly doesn't inspire a sense of confidence in your ability to do your job. But, at least you were honest with your supervisor.
Is there a better way to communicate honestly with an unsupportive supervisor without making the situation worse?
This is in the US in the public sector.