What not to say to someone with a mental illness

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of some hella awkward questions, then you already know what’s coming in this post.

Obviously I’m not taking sides, mainly because there aren’t any, but talking to someone with mental health issues about such issues can be a communicative minefield. From experience, there are some people who are just stuck for words, they don’t have any clue what to say and as soon as the conversation is brought up they forget that the person in front of them is someone they know and love. At best you can come away from these chats with hope and support, if you’re lucky. But a lot of us aren’t lucky, and it is awkward, unfulfilling and even a nasty attack.

So let’s recognise the things you definitely should not say to someone confiding in others about their mental health struggles.

‘It’s all in your head.’ The big one. 99.9% of the time this is going to be said and taken badly. Do not say it under any circumstances because the receiver of this bad advice will feel belittled.

’You’re overreacting.’ Ugh. We are not consciously choosing to react this way. Our mind and body have taken over and this surface of emotions is the result of an internal hurricane that we got no weather warning for.

’Just get up, get out the house and get on with it.’ Oh really? I hadn’t thought of that! You mean it’s that simple? Honestly. That’s like telling a bird with a hurt wing to just fly anyway! Don’t think about falling to the ground, just fly and you’ll be fine! This one comes from a mind of pure ignorance towards this subject.

‘There are so many people in the world worse off than you.’ And there are people in the world better off than me too, you saying I can’t be happy?

I think the lesson to be learned here. If you don’t know what to say, a hug will do!

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