Things You SHOULD Say To Someone With Mental Illness

This take is in response to a take by @AngelicSin Things You Should Never Say to Someone With Mental Illness Please go read her's first and show her support for her myTake.

A lot of the things people say to try and "help" friends struggling with mental illness are just... your friends have heard them before. They didn't make things better before and they won't now. I've had several friends go through these sorts of things and the following are those things I've found to genuinely be positive and encouraging to them.

Things You SHOULD Say To Someone With Mental Illness

1. "I'm Always Willing to Talk"

You can also say something like "let me know if you ever need to talk." I tend to say this, but I think "I'm always willing to talk" can be better in some regards. Saying "let me know" has the potential to put pressure on them. It puts the responsibility of reaching out on them instead of you. It's really hard for people struggling with mental illness to open up most of the time so placing the responsibility of reaching out on them can be bad thing. On the other hand one could argue that saying "let me know" gives them a bit more control which can be a comforting thing so which you choose to say just kind of depends on who your friend is.

Things You SHOULD Say To Someone With Mental Illness

2. "I'm not going anywhere."

Most people who have struggled with depression, anxiety, or some other form of mental illness have had people leave because of it. We don't like to deal with it. It makes us uncomfortable and so we run away. That makes people who have these issues paranoid in a certain regard. (Don't get me wrong, calling it paranoia doesn't mean I think their concerns or worries are at all unfounded). One of the best and most encouraging things you can do for someone is to stick around. When it gets hard please stay beside them. It's one of the hardest but most beneficial things you can do for them. Letting them know that you're willing to stay beside them even when the going gets tough... that can mean the world to them.

Things You SHOULD Say To Someone With Mental Illness

3. "I love you" (please read this one)

Please be very careful about using this one. It has the potential to be a very positive thing or a very negative thing. On the one hand it can be one of, if not the best way of saying, "I care" because at this point... "I care" is a phrase that has lost a lot of meaning. Enough people say it just to feel better about themselves that, while it can be very helpful or meaningful to a person, it's also easy for them to write it off as your "just saying it." I love you is still a powerful phrase that has the potential to show that you're genuinely invested in and care about a person. However, it can also lead to bad stuff. It's easy to fall in love with someone who says they love you. That's where the problems arise. If you say I love you to someone with mental illness you must make it VERY clear exactly what you mean when you say it and you must do whatever it takes to make sure you're not setting yourself up to be the person they wholly rely on. You aren't the cure even if you can be part of the treatment so do whatever it takes to avoid leading someone on. Never let someone feel like you're the answer to all their problems because if nothing else, should anything happen to you or if you have to leave at any point it will destroy them.

Things You SHOULD Say To Someone With Mental Illness

4. Compliments in General

I once ended up in a video call at 11 p.m. with a close friend of mine. They happened to have a panic attack while we were talking. One of the things that stood out to me was how much my friend thought of themselves as worthless. It's what the voices in their head kept telling them and they'd begun to believe it. Giving compliments to someone be it about their personality, looks, skills etc, highlighting things that make a person unique and special can give them something to hold on to when the voices in their head tell them they're worthless. For the record, giving compliments is almost always a better form of encouragement than saying "It'll get better," or something like that. When it comes right down to it, you don't actually know if things will get better for them or not. That's why I think giving someone something to hold onto in the here and now is better than giving them something unknown that they can't see yet and may or may not ever see.

Things You SHOULD Say To Someone With Mental Illness

5. "Hey, are you doing okay?"

Make an effort to be the one who reaches out. Do it out of the blue. Don't wait til your friend posts something on facebook or twitter about how no one cares. That just makes you look like you're doing it out of pity or because you felt guilt tripped into reaching out. That makes people feel like a drag and that's the exact opposite of what your goal should be. Make an effort to be the one who reaches out. Check in on people out of the blue and make sure they're doing okay. If they're not be willing to talk, listen, or whatever else they may need. I like "Hey, are you doing okay?" over "how's it going?" or "what's up?" It gets straight to the point and it isn't a phrase to which people are super used to responding with "I'm okay," "I'm fine," or "not much." Please don't ask vague questions that people can escape easily. It may feel like you're pushing them which can be very uncomfortable, but believe it or not it shows that you really do care. ALSO! Realize if they simply say "fine," in response, you'll have to push deeper because "fine" only means fine once in about every 20 times.

Things You SHOULD Say To Someone With Mental Illness

Bonus: "My Pleasure."

Now I know people joke about being a good chick-fil-a employee when you say my pleasure a lot (or maybe that's just in my social circles), but this can be a much better response than "don't mention it," "don't worry about it," or "no problem." When you say "My pleasure," it communicates to a person that, not only are they not a drag or a hassle to you, but that you genuinely want them to reach out to you if they need you. People with mental illness often end up being some of the sweetest and most self-less people you'll meet and one of the things they worry about a lot is being a burden to others. If you can avoid making them feel like a burden, you've done a great thing for them.

Closing Thoughts

I'm not trying to say that everyone should sacrifice their personal time to start some sort of mental health ministry. This take is for people who have friends that deal with mental health issues and want to help them. It's not easy doing any of these things. Sitting with my friend through their anxiety attack sucked. It hurts to see people in that much pain dealing with stuff you struggle to even imagine. But I want to encourage anyone who would seek to invest in a friend like this... it's 100% worth it. If you find you don't struggle a lot with your own problems, I'd encourage you to go out of your way to support others in theirs. Again, I don't want to demonize anyone who isn't doing this, I simply want to encourage those who are.

These are points are all based on my experiences with my friends who have struggled with mental health issues. Please realize that not all people are the same. Some need space and need to feel in control. Do what you can to learn about the people with whom you interact. If you meet someone that likes to be in control you can let them know that you're open to talk and that they should reach out to you if they ever feel the need. As I mentioned before that can make people feel secure and in control even if it's just in something small, and sometimes that's all a person needs. In the end mental health issues vary from person to person and so should your response. There's not a one size fits all system here. I hope however that you can use the points written here to gain a better perspective and a better idea of what you can do to help the people close to you.

P.S.

If anyone reading this struggles with mental health please feel free to say what things you think would be more helpful or to clarify if one of these things WOULDN'T be helpful for you and why. I don't want to pretend I know everything and I don't want to lead anyone astray. So please be my fact checkers here in regards to your own personal understandings and experiences with the issue.


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Most Helpful Girls

  • first thing, great take!

    Panic attacks are horrible.. your friend very likely doesn't think as horribly about themselves as they did during the panic attack. Panic attacks heighten your thoughts.. it's hard to explain. Have you ever had one?

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    • No, I've not. My friend has sundown syndrome so her depression and anxiety escalate in severity throughout the day until they're just miserable by the evening. It sucks, though they've been doing better lately. They're in a relationship with a guy who's been treating them really well and I think it's nice that they just have someone on whom they can consistently rely.

  • Geez. I don't wanna go through life feeling like I'm walking on egg shells not to hurt someone who may or may not have a "mental illness".
    Politeness and kindness should be enough, at least to strangers.

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    • And I would agree. Like I said, this is for people who have friends struggling with these sorts of things. If you want to better understand how to help the people you know that deal with mental illness these are things I've found that can help. I'm not saying anyone needs to try and invest in any and everyone's lives. Just ways they can help those of their friends and family.

    • Yes, I understand what you mean.
      Sorry of my comment was out of place.

    • Not at all, and don't get me wrong, I don't even walk on eggshells around people even if/when I'm talking to someone I know with depression or anxiety. I just try to make it my normal habit to be a positive and encouraging person. I don't worry so much about not offending people or trying to make sure I never say the wrong thing, I just try to be constantly positive so that no one will feel like they have to worry about me offending them if that makes sense.

Most Helpful Guys

  • you are successful, I Love you, I am proud of who you are, all things might seem hard but you can make it as you are strong.

    These words needed to be said and many more i can't write them all

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    • saying you love a mentally disabled person only makes them worse

      a parent cannot say they love their child with down syndrome without regurgitating

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    • @JellyDonutguy96 no I mean the people who are sick that i know.. those words work on them about you (People around you) i dont know

  • Don't lie.
    Don't say "I'm not going anywhere" and then run away when you find out it's worse than you thought. If you don't know you will stay no matter what. Don't say you will stay. Please.

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    • Agreed! I failed to emphasize this well. Never lead a person on, if you don't understand the situation and or can't realistically make the promise "not to go anywhere" don't make it because it will do far more harm than good. Only say it if you're willing to follow through.

    • Thank you.

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What Girls Said 10

  • As someone who has bipolar, I think this is a great myTake. One thing that should be repeated ad nauseam is "Make an effort to be the one who reaches out." Mental illness often cripples a person's ability to ask for help, and it's not always obvious when someone is suffering. So if you know somebody who has a mental illness, periodically ask how they're doing.

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  • The problem isn't with people listening. The problem is with not realizing how serious the matter is. I did talk about my mental state with my dad and mom and they thought I'm just sad because I'm struggling with my studies. They did show support and let me have my favorite food, they stopped being harsh with grades, but I'm still depressed and they don't understand that the case simply doesn't close that way.

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  • hey this was on point. I really liked this.
    I suffer from depression and anxiety, mostly social anxiety.
    Saying those things will help ease my anxiety and stress around you. Things like "I'm not going anywhere", and "I really like you" and "you can always talk to me if you want", are very good and nice things to say!

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  • As someone who is depressed and has anxiety, I hate when people say "can i help" no you can't, "are you ok" no im not thats why i was diagnosed and have to take medication.

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  • actually just leave me the fuck alone XD

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    • If that's what you want I think most people will be willing to accommodate you xD

  • Thank you for this, honestly.

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  • Really loved your Mytake!

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  • Epic take!

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  • I think you you treat them like anyone else and not walk on eggshells. If the get upset slap their face until the calm down.

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  • Boom boom Shaka laka boom boom

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What Guys Said 20

  • I’d agree with these. I have mental illnesses myself and it does help when people message out if the blue. Shows they actually care, rare I know as most people wait until something is posted.

    But a big one is “Don’t Lie” don’t say it doesn’t bother you and leave. Don’t make things up to just make them feel better (it does the opposite). Make sure you are there for them when you said you would be. It’s awful when someone leaves mid way through a tough convo and that really doesn’t help.

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  • Is this mostly for women? Cause men aren't going to say a lot of these things.

    I have mood and anxiety disorder, Asperger's, auditory processing disorder and OCD. I go through a lot, everyday is a struggle, I can't hold down a job and I'm homeless. Sure I'm working on changing that but that's been two years trying to. You give up sometimes cause you've run out of energy. It's very depressing and harmful.

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    • These are the things I've said and tried to do for my friends. I know plenty of guys aren't comfortable doing these sorts of things. Part of my reason for writing this is because people hear fairly often "what not to say to people with mental health problems" but it can be hard to find anything that tells you what you SHOULD say. I kind of hoped this would help people with some pointers and such. :)

  • Very interesting. Have thought about what not to say, but until now never thought much about what to say. Thanks!

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  • Really good information and I will use the recommendations.

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  • This is pretty useful stuff. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

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  • Excellent take.

    Caring makes all the difference.

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    • Problem is: as a man, nobody gives a fuck about you. But if you're female, everybody cares. What fucking equality is this?

  • This is just too great... How could things get better than this? I mean seriously. Oh damn... it's a bout to go down... knaw what i'm sayin?

    Let's start with "gang stalking" shall we...

    https://youtu.be/PLqMpnc54j8

    Once you learn all about that... let's learn about the 'glow in the dark niggers'

    https://youtu.be/TcqWok8AubE

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  • great take

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  • This is all gold, people!

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  • These are some very important points. Thank you.

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  • Nice myTake

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  • l care about you l love you babe

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  • Um, okay?

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  • Interesting

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  • mental illness doesn't exist.

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  • yes, good thingw..

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  • Nice

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  • I question mental illness

    most people are not
    they are fine
    but there are a few

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    • You'd be surprised :/ I was.

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    • so praying over oil
      and placing it around your house or apartment is bad?

    • If your faith is in the oil then yes. If you feel protected because you put oil around your house than you're trusting not in God but in the oil and your own actions in praying over said oil.

  • Why should i give them special treatment?
    Please don’t reply.

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  • Great

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