What to Say to a Person With a Mental Illness

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Nearly one in five adults in the United States struggle with some form of mental illness. These conditions can range …

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Nearly one in five adults in the United States struggle with some form of mental illness. These conditions can range in severity, causation, treatability, and more. If you have a loved one who’s struggling and you want to help, knowing how to approach them and what to say can significantly impact the conversation’s outcome.

You may have the best intentions when you make the initial approach; however, if you don’t choose your words carefully, you could end up doing more harm than good. If part of the conversation involves asking if they’ve considered a residential treatment program or outpatient treatment, how you broach the subject can lead to various reactions, and not all of them are productive.

How to Talk About Mental Health Issues

When discussing someone’s mental illness, you never want them to feel like they’re under attack. Rarely are these issues entirely within their control, so taking an antagonistic stance during the initial conversation can set your efforts back before they begin.

Someone with a mental illness wants to be treated like they are still valued as a person, feel comfortable in their surroundings, and know they’re worthy of the love they deserve. When you begin a conversation with your loved one to discuss their mental health, some questions and talking points can help guide the discussion.

Five Things You Can Say to Someone Struggling With Mental Illness

Although everyone’s situation is different, the questions and talking points below are a good place to start if you want to help a loved one that’s struggling with a substance use disorder or mental health disorder 

What Do You Want to Talk About? I’m Here for You Whenever You Need It

You may not know exactly what’s going on with your loved one, but simply being there and expressing concern can go a long way. Active listening and allowing them the space to talk openly about their experiences is incredibly important.

What Can I Do to Support You?

Sometimes it’s less about what you can do to fix their problems and more about simply providing support during their time of need. Reframing the question around what you can do to support them can open the door for opportunities for improvement, growth, and recovery.

That Sounds Like a Difficult Experience. How Are You Coping With It?

People suffering from anxiety and depression can feel like others don’t understand the severity of their condition. Society tells them to focus less on being depressed or anxious and to just be happy instead. This patronizing approach often leads people to shut down emotionally and refuse to engage in meaningful conversation.

Acknowledging that their feelings are real and valid opens the door for more meaningful conversations. Asking them how they are currently coping with their condition may lead them to be open about seeking help from a treatment facility that they may not have sought otherwise. 

Let’s Find Somewhere Quiet to Talk

If your loved one is struggling with anxiety, where you ask your questions can prove just as important as how you ask them. You may worsen the situation if you broach the subject in a loud, busy, or over-stimulating environment. Centering the conversation around a grounded activity, like taking a walk in a quiet area, can get your loved one into a good headspace, allowing them to talk calmly and openly about their issues.

Are You Looking for My Advice, or Do You Want to Vent?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in wanting to help someone handle their problems that we overstep our boundaries. They don’t want someone to talk to them about how they should seek treatment, see a therapist, or take a certain medication.

Sometimes they just want someone to listen to how they’re feeling and offer a sympathetic ear. Establishing off the bat that you’re willing to provide that safe space for them to vent can help them feel more comfortable with you and open up about their problems in a safe setting.

Mental Health Disorder Treatment At Clearview Treatment Programs 

Clearview Treatment Programs offers individualized evidence-based treatment for adults suffering from mental health disorders and can offer your loved one the support they need.

Our southern California facilities provide individuals with comfort and natural beauty that is ideal for healing transformation. We offer a specialized full continuum of care with residential treatment centers and outpatient treatment options, allowing clients to enter at the level of care that’s best for long-lasting recovery. Contact us today to learn more about the admissions process.

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