Let’s pretend someone just told you they’re struggling with a mental illness. What do you say? Here are a few suggestions.
“Thanks for opening up to me.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“How can I help?”
“Thanks for sharing.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. It must be tough.”
“I’m here for you when you need me.”
“I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”
“People do get better.”
“Can I drive you to an appointment?”
“How are you feeling today?”
“I love you.”
“It could be worse..”
“Just deal with it.”
“Snap out of it.”
“Everyone feels that way sometimes.”
“You may have brought this on yourself.”
“We’ve all been there.”
“You’ve got to pull yourself together.”
“Maybe try thinking happier thoughts.”
“Oh man, that sucks.”
More tips for talking
Stop the silence
If someone admits to having a mental illness, they are opening up to you in a big way. Ask questions, show concern, but keep the awkward silence at bay.
It sounds simple enough, but try to say the right things with openness, warmth and caring. Language and tone of voice are more important than you think.
The fact that you are there can make a world of difference, so in your conversation, try to err more on the side of listening.
Keep in contact
Offer availability by phone, text, email, or time to meet up. Just be there.
Don’t ignore it
Don’t be afraid to ask about the well-being of another if you think they might be hurting. Trust your senses.
Everyone is different. They may want very specific help or no help at all. Either way, you can always ask and be open to the answer.
Keep the conversation moving
It’s ok to talk about other things to keep silent lulls out of conversation; as long as they know you’re completely open to revisiting the topic later.
Help stop the silence surrounding mental illness. Take the pledge.
- I will talk openly on the subject of mental illnesses.
- I will treat those experiencing mental illnesses with respect and dignity.
- I will look for and correct injustices at school, the workplace, or in my social circles.
- I will avoid name-calling and using words that describe mental illnesses in a hurtful way.
- I will recognize that a person’s mental illness is just one part of who they are, it does not define them.
- I will encourage others to speak up, speak out and just plain speak.
If we join together, people with mental illnesses will be treated with respect and acceptance. This is how I’ll help remove the silence surrounding mental illness. This is how I will make it ok.