Conversation Starters

To help your friend or family member who is experiencing mental health challenges, speak up and start the conversation. Here are a few ideas:

  • Reassure them. Let them know that they are not alone; that you care and will continue to support them.

  • Encourage them to open up. Reassure them that it is ok to talk openly about how they’re feeling.

  • Listen carefully. Resist the urge to give advice or talk about your own experiences.

  • Read up. Learn about their particular disorder to better understand what they may be experiencing.

  • Stay in touch. Continuously reach out through regular phone calls, texts, Facebook messages and visits to help them feel less isolated.

  • Be persistent. Invite them to dinner, movies, sporting events and other activities. Even if they refuse at first, continue to issue invitations periodically.

  • Engage them in healthy activities. Invite them to stay involved in healthy and fun activities such as hobbies or sports. Offer to go on a walk together. Event talk to them about the importance of eating right, drinking lots of water and getting sleep.

  • Talk about the future. People who are experiencing a mental illness may have feelings of hopelessness and have trouble seeing beyond their current state.

  • Be patient. Don’t push for too much too soon. Understand that they have a legitimate medical condition and that healing takes time.

  • Acknowledge improvements. Point out small signs of progress, such as saying, “It was nice to see you at the mall again last week.”

  • Don’t ignore remarks about suicide. Take immediate action if your friend or family member appears to be in crisis. Call the Access & Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240 for help 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Videos:

What Would You Do?

This interactive video from What A Difference A Friend Makes that gives tips to young adults on how to support his or her loved one living with a mental illness.