5 things NOT to say to someone with a mental illness — and one thing to remember

I know how you feel. — No, you don’t, unless you have a mental illness, too. Trust me.

Just think good thoughts. — If only it was that simple. Peter Pan could say this, but only because he had fairy dust.

Snap out of it! – With severe mental illness, that’s not really possible. You’re not Cher in “Moonstruck,” and we’re not Nicholas Cage.

You don’t get enough exercise. — It is true that exercise creates endorphins, which helps with mental health. But this sounds very judgmental. Try a softer approach like, “I’m going for a walk and I’d love some company. Would you like to join me?”

Just eat this – or do that. While diet and daily activities do factor into anyone’s well-being, this sounds like a simple cure-all. At best, most of us can only hope to manage our mental illnesses. In most cases, cures of any kind are a long way off. Suggestions are fine, but don’t make them sound like simple solutions. They aren’t.

And finally, one thing to remember:

Sometimes, the best thing to say is — nothing at all. Just let your friend or loved one know you are there for them. Ask them how they are, and let them do the talking. This helps more than you’ll ever know.



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