There are so many things people say you should and should say to a mentally ill person, but the truth is, it’s different for everybody. One person might be offended by your question while another might be so glad you asked.
My rule of thumb is to think about these 3 things.
- How close are you to the person?
- How open is this person about their mental health?
- What is their current mental state?
Say your best friend is clinically depressed and is in the middle of a really horrific episode. They’re very outspoken about how they feel on a regular basis. In this case, we can dig a little deeper than just, “How are you feeling?” Here, we might want to go deeper. If they have a history of self harm, you can make sure they’re staying safe. Even ask if you can remove any harmful objects from their home. You can talk with them about suicidal thoughts and if they’re up for talking about whether or not they’re having them.
On the other hand, maybe a friend reached out to you who is also in a depressive episode, but is more reserved when it comes to talking about their feelings. Of course you’ll want to make sure they are safe, but you have to ask in a different way. You might say something like “I’m here for you in any way you need. I know you don’t like to talk about your mental health, but just know that you can always come to me.”
That’s honestly a good thing to say to anyone going through any sort of mental instability. I think you get where I’m going with this. Just feel out the situation before asking invasive questions.
- Are you sure you’re not doing this for attention?
- Think positive thoughts!
- You’re negativity is toxic
- Are you sure you need those meds?
The list goes on.
When you’re checking in on someone dealing with a mental illness, you’ll want to make sure that you let them know you’re here to help or get them outside help if that’s needed. Don’t try and offer solutions or make it better. Just be there to support them during this trying time.
As long as you’re keeping them safe and they feel supported, even if they don’t feel happy, you’re doing it right!
When I’m depressed, I know I hate when people try and solve everything. Depression usually sticks around for a while, and there’s not much you can do about it. Also, I’m always too tired and sluggish feeling to even try and feel better. But being supported by people who love me, and even by the Instagram community, at least gives me hope for happier days to come.
P.s. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself! If you ever feel like their problems are becoming your problems, help them seek out a crisis line or a therapist to talk to. It’s not your responsibility to fix someone.