How to Say the Right Thing to Someone Struggling
Seven in ten teens view depression and anxiety as major problems among their peers. Talking about these mental health conditions can be challenging – but it doesn’t have to be if you know the right words to say. Oftentimes, people with the best intentions end up using language that isn’t helpful. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of the words you use to show your support. You can use the ACT acronym as an easy way to remember how to help – Acknowledge what they’re feeling, show you Care, and help them by Telling an adult. Here are some tips on how you can ACT:
- “Tell me more about it.” – Instead of saying phrases like “get over it” or “you’ll feel better soon,” remember the power of being a good listener.
- “I’m here for you.” – Show your support by letting your friend or loved one know you care. You may not understand how they are feeling, but you can express your willingness to be there whenever needed.
- “It’s OK to feel this way.” – People who are struggling with their behavioral health often feel alone and hopeless. Remind your friend or loved one that you are sorry that they’re feeling this way. Fight the urge to come up with simple solutions. Depression is not a simple problem you can easily solve.
- “What can I do to help you?” – People with depression often feel tired and overwhelmed. Let them know you’re available. Taking on small tasks can make a big difference for someone who is struggling.
- “This isn’t your fault.” – Depression is a mental health condition that cannot be fixed with just a bit of positive thinking. Avoid saying, “This will pass.” Phrases like this minimize your friend’s or loved one’s feelings.
If you’re concerned that your friend or loved one may be exhibiting warning signs beyond symptoms of depression or anxiety, check out suicide warning signs and behaviors here.
You can take a behavioral health screen for yourself or on behalf of a friend or loved one here.
And finally, if for any reason you are unsure, uncomfortable, or unable to take action, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting ACT to 741741.