It’s Mental Health Month: 6 Things to Say to Someone Who Has a Mental Illness

We’ve come a long way in erasing the stigma of mental illness, but we’ve got a long way to go. Most people still find it hard to talk about mental health — their own, or that of a loved one. Mental Health Month is a great time to commit to talking with a loved one who has a mental illness and would benefit from getting help at a treatment center.

Searching for the Right Words

It’s understandable that bringing up the mental illness of a loved one can be very difficult. But here are some things to say that will get the conversation started in the right direction:

  1. “I know you are struggling, but there are effective treatments for what you’re going through.” Many people who are battling a mental illness see their future as hopeless. They believe they’ll always suffer from the symptoms they are suffering from now, and that all they can do is look for ways to cope. Emphasizing that mental illness is a disease and that there are proven methods for treating it can be very uplifting for your loved one.
  2. “I’m here for you, and I’ll help any way I can.” Having a mental illness can be very isolating. Even if a person has family and close friends, it can feel like they’re going through it completely alone. Simply letting them know that you are available and eager to help can start to bring down the barriers the person believes are there.
  3. “I want to learn more about what you’re going through.” One of the things people with mental illness often wish is that others could understand how they’re feeling and what the world looks like through their eyes. By showing that you’re interested in exactly that, you give them the opportunity to share their experience.
  4. “I’m in it for the long haul.” There is no quick fix for mental illness. The road to recovery is long and bumpy. By acknowledging that fact and saying that you’ll stick by your loved one for as long as it takes, you are providing tremendous support and encouragement.
  5. “Let’s go get coffee.” Discussing how a person feels, the options available at a treatment center, etc. is very important. But sometimes what a person with mental illness wants and needs most is just to spend time with a loved one talking about anything but their condition.
  6. “I love you.” It’s something that we should all probably say more often to the people in our life. And for a person with mental illness, it can in some cases be the one thing that gets them through a particularly difficult episode. While it seems that we sometimes worry about “wearing out” the phrase, the truth is, people love to hear it any time it comes to mind. Never hesitate to say you care.

 Let’s Talk!

Mental Health Month is a perfect time to start a dialogue with a loved one who has a mental illness. For more information on how to do that or to find out about the services we offer at our treatment center, call 970-494-4200. If you are dealing with an immediate mental or emotional crisis, our Access Center is available at that same phone number 24/7. In the case of a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.


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