The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
You may not know what to say to a friend or family member who is struggling with mental illness. You want to be there for someone, but you’re afraid your comments won’t be taken the right way. Here are some frequent blunders to avoid, as well as some encouraging words to say to your loved one as they work through their mental health issues.
What Is Ok To Say
”Would you like to discuss it further? You can count on me no matter what.”
We may not comprehend what our friend or loved one is dealing with, but we can still be there for them in a positive and healthy way. Without judging them, make sure they realize they’re not the only ones who feel this way. Allowing your loved one to take the lead in the conversation will allow you to explore issues that they are comfortable with. Follow and assist rather than lead and counsel.
“How can I help?”
Someone you care about who has struggled with depression or anxiety for some time may already know what works and what doesn’t. Providing assistance, even if it’s something as easy as doing the laundry or going food shopping, shows them you care.
“That sounds really hard. How are you managing?”
It’s reassuring and reassuring to acknowledge how they feel. In this way, you show your friend that you care about what they’re going through and that you’re willing to lend a hand.
“Let’s go for a walk or somewhere quiet.”
Grounding activities, such as going for a walk or finding a quiet location to talk, can be helpful in times of high anxiety. Listening to music or smelling a comforting aroma are just a few examples of grounding activities that can be done by yourself or with a companion.
“I’m so sorry this happened to you. Let me know if you ever need anything.”
Remember that their feelings are real and that you want to empower them. “Would you rather that I listen to your thoughts or offer my perspective?” Let them know what kind of help they need and that you won’t condemn them if they don’t specify. You can get their attention by saying, “I don’t know if this is relevant, but I’m curious about…”
What Not To Say
“I get what you’re saying. That power bill gave me such a heart attack!”
Your heartfelt attempt to sympathize with your loved one’s plight may be a little off. It’s a mistake to compare their panic episodes to your anxiety over a routine expense since it implies that those two situations are of equal importance and lessens their anguish. It’s stigmatizing to tell someone with an anxiety problem to just do what you did when you were nervous.
“Have you considered yoga?”
Yoga, meditation, and other wellness practices purport to be able to cure depression and other mental illnesses, but this is a widespread myth. Your friend is the only one who can tell you if these practices are appropriate for them, so don’t be afraid to ask. Instead, ask the person what options they have. If the other person claims to have no other options, you may want to get their permission before mentioning some suggestions you’ve heard that they could find helpful.
“Shouldn’t you get on medication or something?”
These kinds of comments can come out as accusing, even while it’s OK to express worry for a buddy. Another approach is to ask, “I always hear about therapy and medicine, what are your thoughts on those?” if the person indicates they feel like they have no other choices. Keep in mind that this is ultimately a decision for them to make.
“Are you alright?!”
Your loved one may feel compelled to get better soon, which is rarely the case with mental health. You can expect them to tell you they’re alright because of peer pressure.
“There are people who are going through a lot more hardship than you.”
When someone makes such a snide remark about your loved one, it can lead them to question whether or not their struggles are real. Encourage them to stop comparing themselves to others and rather focus on what’s best for them, not what’s best for anyone else but themselves. Visit this page to learn more about how to approach these delicate conversation about mental health with a loved one.