Mental health is a delicate issue, and it’s crucial to be aware of what you say and do around people suffering from mental health issues. You may not realize it, but certain things can trigger a mental health episode in someone vulnerable. Here are tips to help you avoid triggering someone with mental health issues.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Mental health is a complex issue; no two people experience it the same way. Just because someone doesn’t look like they’re struggling on the outside doesn’t mean they aren’t dealing with a lot on the inside. And even if someone does appear to be struggling, that doesn’t mean that you know exactly what they’re going through. So it’s important to avoid making assumptions about someone’s mental health.
If you want to show support, you can best ask how the other person is doing and offer a listening ear. This lets them know you’re there for them and interested in hearing what they say. It also allows them to share as much or as little as they want without feeling like they’re being interrogated.
Avoid Giving Unsolicited Advice
When someone confides in you about their mental health, they’re not looking for a lecture or a list of things they should do to “fix” their problem. In most cases, they want someone to listen and understand. So avoid giving unsolicited advice unless the person specifically asks for it.
If you want to offer advice, make sure it’s thoughtful and respectful. Instead of telling the person what they should do, you could say, “Have you considered treatment centers? I think it might help.” This shows that you’re trying to be supportive without appearing bossy or pushy. A mental health center in a residential setting can help provide the structure and support that people with mental illness need to live healthy and successful lives. They Usually offer 24-hour supervision, access to healthcare professionals, and a variety of therapeutic and recreational activities. They can also provide a safe and supportive environment for people in crisis. For many people with mental illness, a mental health center can be an important step in their recovery.
Avoid “Should” Statements
When talking to someone about their mental health, avoiding “should” statements is essential. Saying “You should be happy!” or “You shouldn’t feel that way” can invalidate the other person’s feelings and make them feel like they’re not entitled to their own emotions. This can be frustrating and confusing for someone struggling with mental health.
Instead of “should” statements, try phrases like “I understand how you feel” This shows that you’re trying to empathize with the other person and understand their experience. It also gives them the space to express their feelings without being judged. Empathizing with someone doesn’t mean that you have to agree with everything they’re feeling, but it does show that you’re trying to understand where they’re coming from.
Be Aware of Your Body Language and Tone of Voice
Your body language and tone of voice can be just as important as your words when communicating with someone. Be aware of your facial expressions and overall body posture. Avoid crossing your arms or rolling your eyes, as this can make the other person feel defensive. Try to keep an open and welcoming stance. And be conscious of the tone of your voice. Try not to sound judgmental, condescending, or angry.
If you come across as closed off or unapproachable, the other person may not feel comfortable opening up to you about their mental health. If you appear warm and welcoming, they may be more likely to confide in you and trust that you’ll understand and support them. Remember, it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to come across as judgmental.”
“Thank you for opening up to me. I’m here for you.”
Both responses show support and understanding, but the second one is more likely to make the other person feel comfortable and safe.
Don’t Compare Experiences
When someone is sharing their story with you, it’s important to avoid comparing your experiences to theirs. This can make the other person feel you don’t understand what they’re going through or that their feelings are somehow invalid. It’s also important to avoid giving advice based on your own experiences. Just because something worked for you doesn’t mean it will work for the other person. Everyone is different, and so are their experiences with mental health.
Mental health is a complex and sensitive topic. And there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to talking about it. But by following these simple guidelines, you can avoid triggering someone’s mental health issues and show them that you’re supportive and understanding.