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Help end mental health stigma for someone else

How to support someone you care about. Talking about mental health can feel uncomfortable. And that’s OK. You don’t have to be an expert to talk about it. Anyone can talk about it. The most important thing you can do when someone opens up to you about their mental health is to say something. Silence is one of the most dangerous words.

Let’s start a conversation

Here’s what a typical interaction might look like.

How you can help end mental health stigma

Offer Support

  • Be kind. It really matters.
  • Stop the silence. Practice talking and learning what to say. 
  • Offer help. Ask if you can drive them to an appointment, make them a meal or help with the kids or pets. 
  • Actively listen. Seek to understand. You don’t have to “fix it.” Just be a listening ear.
  • Learn more. The more you know about mental health and illnesses, the better you can show up in a more informed and caring way for people. 
  • Stay connected. Connection is a very powerful thing. It helps people feel less alone and gives a sense of belonging.  
  • Share resources. Have crisis and support resources handy. If you need them, you’ve got them. 

Get the conversation started

What you say matters.

What to say:

  • “Thank you for opening up to me.”
  • “Do you want to talk about it?”
  • “I’m here for you.”
  • “You don’t have to go through this alone.”
  • “How are you feeling today?”
  • “Can I drive you to an appointment?”
  • “Are you getting the care and support you need?”
  • “Can I help you with getting the care and support you need?”

What not to say:

  • “It could be worse.”
  • “Snap out of it.”
  • “We all have those days.”
  • “Pull yourself together.”
  • “Quit exaggerating.”
  • “What’s wrong with you?”
  • “Try thinking happy thoughts.”
  • “It’s just a phase.”
  • “Stop being so dramatic.”

Words matter

Choose them carefully.

Things from the everyday language we use to how the media portrays people living with a mental illness hugely influence attitudes and stigma. Let’s flip the script so those with a mental health condition show up in a positive way in movies, TV and online. Let’s change how we talk about it, normalize seeking help and shatter the stereotypes.

What not to say: 
“He’s bipolar.”

What to say:  
“He lives with a bipolar disorder.” Or “He has a bipolar disorder.”

What not to say: 
“That’s crazy!”

What to say:
 “That’s surprising!”

What not to say:
“That person is mentally ill.”

What to say:
“That person lives with a mental illness.”

What not to say: 
“She’s an addict.”

What to say:
“She has a substance use disorder.”

What not to say: 
“I’m so OCD about my desk”

What to say:
“I like my desk clean and organized”

What not to say: 
“I’m so ADHD today”

What to say:
“I’m so distracted today”

What not to say: 
“Committed suicide.”

What to say:
“Died by suicide.” Or “Lost to suicide.”

Resources for support

Find more resources on how you can help support others


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