Breaking The Stigma: 5 Phrases To Avoid When Communicating With Someone Struggling With Mental Illness
What Not to Say to People with Mental Illness
If you are a friend or family member of someone with a mental illness, it can be difficult to know what to say. While your intentions may be good, you may not have the right words to express your support and understanding. The wrong words, however, can be offensive and even hurtful. Here are some phrases you should avoid when talking to someone with a mental illness.
“It’s All In Your Head.”
Mental illness is a real medical condition, and telling someone with a mental illness that it’s “all in their head” is dismissive and invalidating. Mental illnesses can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, environmental influences, and even traumatic life events. By insinuating that a person’s mental illness is not real, you are minimizing their experiences and the impact it has on their life.
“Come On, Things Could Be Worse!”
Saying this phrase implies that a person’s mental illness is not as bad as something else and that it isn’t worth talking about. This can be incredibly damaging to someone who is struggling with their mental health. It also ignores the fact that mental illnesses can be debilitating and have serious impacts on a person’s life. Instead, try to empathize with the person and show that you are there for them.
“Snap Out Of It!”
This phrase is not only dismissive and unhelpful, it also implies that a person’s mental illness is something they can control. Mental illnesses are complex and can be very difficult to manage. No matter how hard someone tries, they may not be able to “snap out of it”. Instead, try to be understanding and offer to help in any way possible.
“But You Have A Great Life, You Always Seem So Happy!”
The fact that someone may appear to be happy does not mean they are not struggling with their mental health. Mental illnesses can be hidden underneath a mask of happiness, and this phrase implies that the person’s mental illness is not real. It also minimizes the true extent of their struggles.
“Have You Tried Chamomile Tea?”
This phrase implies that a person’s mental illness can be cured with a simple home remedy. While chamomile tea can be a great way to relax, it is not a cure-all for mental illness and should not be suggested as such. Instead, offer to help the person find professional help if they haven’t already.
“Everyone Is A Little Down/Moody/OCD Sometimes – It’s Normal.”
This phrase implies that all mental illnesses are the same and that everyone experiences them in the same way. This is simply not true. Mental illnesses are complex and can manifest in different ways for different people. By saying this, you are minimizing the impact a person’s mental illness has on their life.
“This Too Shall Pass.”
This phrase implies that mental illness is temporary and that it can be easily overcome. This is not always the case. Mental illnesses can be long-term and require professional help and treatment in order to manage. Instead of suggesting that the person’s mental illness will go away on its own, offer to help in any way you can.
Talking to someone with a mental illness can be difficult, but it is important to be mindful of the words you use. Avoiding phrases like the ones listed above can help create a safe and supportive environment for the person to express themselves and be heard.