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What SHOULD you say to someone with a mental illness?

What SHOULD you say to someone with a mental illness?

In my last post I asked my readers to message me regarding what they feel a person SHOULD say to someone with a mental illness.  There are so many articles going around about what a person should not say.  If I think about it from my family and friends point of view, reading all of these articles would almost deter me from trying to be supportive to someone with a mental illness because we’ve learned so much of what NOT to say, not what TO say.   I try to give my supports some slack, as I know that society can also be a bully to those supporting those with mental illness. 

I received some great advice and emails from you guys, and after reading through them, this is the list I have come up with.

 

1. Sincerely express love and care for them

While you may not know exactly what to say, I believe the most important thing is to express how much you love them and care for them.  Everyone wants to be loved, especially when life gets tough.  Personally, just knowing I'm loved and being thought about really helps. 

2. Remind them they have gotten through it before 

Sometimes just being reminded that you've gotten through these hard times before is really helpful.  It is a reminder that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  Hanging onto hope is one of those things that keeps a person with mental illness going.  We've made it through depressions and anxiety before, and we'll make it through again. 

3. Remind them that you are there to listen anytime without judgement

I know for myself, sometimes I just want to talk and have a person listen.  I don't even need them to respond.  I just need to talk.  Being able to express my feelings without judgement, is extremely helpful.

4. Be honest

Be honest if you don't understand what they are going through.  Ask them to explain what they are feeling.  Show genuine interest in what they are feeling.  Not everyone understands what mental illness feels like, and we understand that.  By showing interest in our mental health, we know that you care even though you may not completely understand. 

5. Remind them that they are not alone 

Remind them that you are there for them to talk anytime - not just for 30 minutes.  If you know of any mental health resources, support them by sharing what you do know.  Knowing that there are resources and other people out there that feel the same makes it a little less lonely.