1. Your words matter
The words you use can make all the difference. Words can help but they can also hurt. What would you choose?
Wrong (not helpful) Correct (helpful)
Schizo person with schizophrenia
Crazy person with a mental illness
2. Educate yourself
Stigma has been around for a long time and knowing the facts and myths about mental illness can be a great way to help end stigma. Read about facts and myths and become a stigma buster.
3. Be Kind
Simple kindness can make a world of difference. Whether it be a smile, being a good listener or an invitation for coffee and a chat, these simple acts of kindness can help open up the conversation and let someone know you are there for them.
Expressions like “You’ll get over it” and “Just relax” can minimize how a person is feeling. Instead offer your support and say “I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well.” Ask what you can do to help.
4. Listen and ask
Mental illness is a very common form of human pain and suffering. Being a good listener and asking how you can help, sometimes just even being there for people you care about, can be the first step in recovery.
Here are a few examples of what to ask:
- I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well.
- I’ve noticed you’ve seemed down lately.
- Is everything ok?
- How can I help?
5. Talk about it
Break the silence. Mental illness touches us all in some way directly or through a friend, family member or colleague. Stories of people who have experienced mental health issues and who are doing well can really challenge stereotypes. Most people with mental health issues can and do recover, just by talking about it.