What You Should NEVER Say To Someone Struggling With Mental Health

One friend said to me a few days ago "The mind is a scary place". That's so true. Mental health comes in all shapes and sizes. It not only has an impact on yourself but others around you i.e. your family and friends. I can imagine it's a daunting prospect to think of the perfect thing to say to someone whose mental health isn't at its best. But honestly, it's ok to feel a little worried about what the best thing is to say. I'm sure we've all been there where we've been stuck for words because we don't want to upset anyone. That feeling that you're treading on eggshells to avoid saying the wrong thing.


I think in terms of the things to say and the things not to say to someone with bad mental health, it's all about common sense. Think before you speak. If you're not sure if it's the right thing to say, then don't say nothing at all - just be there. Sometimes a good listening ear and being that shoulder to cry on is enough. But sometimes the right word can make the world of difference to someone who is struggling. 

A woman holding a turquoise mug

However, sometimes people can say the wrong thing. More often or not, it's not meant to come across in a malicious way. People react differently and cope in different ways. Saying things like "lighten up" or "it's just a phase" aren't very helpful. Saying things like "Thank you for telling me" or "You're doing the right thing by speaking about it" are incredibly helpful to those who need to hear those words. 


There are some people who will put their foot in it though. Some people who's brains are two seconds behind their mouth. 

Here are some of the things you should NEVER say to someone who is struggling with their mental health:


1) It's just a phase, it'll pass

Oh, this is the equivalent of saying 'Let it go' or 'Just get on with it'. Mental health is never a phase, it's not like going through a phase of eating Subway salads for lunch. This is mental health, it doesn't have an off switch.

2) It's all in your mind

Yeah, well, duh! Of course it's in my frigging mind, that's where the frigging problem is! I don't choose to have bad mental health, nobody does. It's like you're saying to me "You deliberately chose to have bad mental health". It's not helpful.

A woman holding a turquoise mug

3) Everyone gets down/has a moment sometimes

This is such a dismissive comment to make. It's like you're completely disregarding how I am feeling. Saying something like this to someone, you know, saying this is normal, may prevent that person from seeking treatment. The fact that you have stated that it's normal to feel this way is very tactless on your part.

4) There are people worse off than you

How insensitive is this though?! This is another example of completely disregarding how I'm feeling. Next time you moan about Greggs being out of sausage rolls, I'll remind you that there are people worse off than you. See how that could get annoying?

5) Oh just cheer up!

You can guess which two fingers I'm holding up right now to this statement. 

6) But you're always smiling and laughing

Sometimes I don't feel like smiling and laughing, but, for me personally, I don't want to let others know that I'm feeling down. Some days I'll just come out with it and say I'm not in a good place. Sometimes I'll keep quiet and just laugh and smile when I need to. 

A woman holding a turquoise mug

These are some of the things not to say to someone with bad mental health. There are other things, but I think common sense prevails here and they don't need to be mentioned. With everything that has gone on in the last two years, mental health should not be a taboo subject, nor should it still be disregarded. What this pandemic has made us all see is that some people's mental health has taken a battering. We should all be more empathetic, be less judgemental and, most importantly, listen. Check in on those who you haven't heard from in a while. Check in on those who are going through a difficult time in their life. Even if it's just to ask if they're ok. That text/DM can help someone so much. 


Let me know your thoughts on this post!

40 comments
  1. I cannot agree with you more! Even not knowing what to say is better than this x

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    1. Absolutely Lea, it's better not to say nothing at all and just be that physical comfort x

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  2. Oh my! I have heard people say these things to me over the years. Just wish some people would understand mental health is a real thing like physical health.

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    1. I wish people would understand how vital and important mental health is too!

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  3. Literally all of the things you've mentioned, I've had said to me too, even about my chronic pain/illness which really pees me off. Being told to "Cheer up" or "Just smile" when having a bad pain day makes me want to slap the person who has said it tbh haha x

    astoldbykirsty.co.uk

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    1. This post definitely relates to those with a chronic illness, there's no need for someone to tell you cheer up when you are in the chronic pain, that's not on at all x

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  4. Great post, I think saying 'there's always someone worse off than you' is particularly damaging because that's something we often say to ourselves to invalidate our own feelings so it's the last thing you need to hear from someone else!
    Amy x
    callmeamy.co.uk

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    1. Absolutely Amy, it's like you're disregarding the other person's feelings and basically saying that they're not valid enough x

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  5. Sometimes it's talking about whatever rubbish springs to mind. There's only so many ways to can answer "How are you doing?" so sometimes it's taking the focus off that and chatting about what colour the flowers are in the park or what happened in a TV show. It doesn't change anything and it doesn't stop there being a mental health something going on but sometimes just helps. If that makes sense!

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    1. I think taking someone's mind off their thoughts with positive things is a good idea x

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  6. I’m so glad more people are speaking about mental health, especially what types of comments are and aren’t helpful. These comments can be incredibly hurtful and dismissive, which can make someone feel worse. For those who may not know what to say, it’s okay to say nothing and just listen and provide a physical comfort. Great post, thanks for sharing!

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    1. Making comments like this to someone who is suffering with their mental health is definitely not helpful at all. As you said, it can make someone feel so much worse. It's better to be that physical comfort rather than speak sometimes x

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  7. This is such an important topic. I'm so fed up of the amount of times I've heard someone say just cheer up.

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    1. It's the most frustrating comment to hear isn't it?! There's just no need for it x

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  8. Such a good post, Lucy, it's a brilliant reminder to check in with people you haven't heard from in a while, as you say. Also that the power of just listening rather than talking should never be underestimated x

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    1. Absolutely Lisa, it's so important to check in on people you haven't spoken to in a while. A text could make the world of difference to someone! x

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  9. Completely agree! I think people try and think of something to say when really just listening is enough

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    1. Listening is always enough for someone who is struggling with their mental health x

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  10. Absolutely agree with all of this. I think sometimes it can be hard knowing the right thing to say, but it's common sense knowing what not to say. Or you'd like to think anyway. Telling someone to just cheer up seems totally absurd.

    Claire.x
    www.clairemac.co.uk

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    1. Sometimes not saying anything can be just as helpful as to saying the right things, just being there is all that matters x

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  11. I always feel like mental health should be something discussed between close friends. We are all so different and it's important that we talk to those who really get us and know our personality type and you are both comfortable enough to be honest. Friends aren't therapists so they may say things that might seem to downplay problems or try to make us feel better but instead sound dismissive so being honest is so important too!

    Corinne x
    https://skinnedcartree.com

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    1. It's always best to talk to those who understand you and that you are close with. It's important to be honest with friends and let them know what helps you and what doesn't x

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  12. This is a really helpful post for other people who do not have too much knowledge or experience on mental health. Thank you for sharing this post.

    Lauren - www.bournemouthgirl.com

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    1. I hope this can help others who are in the dark about the right things to say in this situation x

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  13. Oh girt, I FEEL that!! I've heard so many of these things are they aren't helpful at all. I've been struggling with really bad anxiety & OCD since my childhood and YES it's all in my head but that doesn't make it any more real!? Thank god I've met many amazing people who are now my closest friends and who are suuuper understanding :)

    Lots of love,
    Krissi of the marquise diamond
    https://www.themarquisediamond.de/

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    1. I'm sorry that you have been struggling with bad anxiety and OCD since your childhood lovely. That's so good to hear that you have met and made friends with people who understand!

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  14. Such an important topic sweetie!

    Danielle | thereluctantblogger.co.uk

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    1. It's so important to raise awareness of this topic!

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  15. Thanks for sharing, these things are not very nice to say to someone, mine is go back to the doctors to get more help, when I need is a friend to talk to!

    Nic | Nic's Adventures

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    1. It's always good to have a friend to talk to x

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  16. As someone who is acutely aware of their struggle with mental health, this post hit the jackpot! I hate it when people downplay my mental health struggles because "someone has it worse" ��

    Great post Lucy!

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    1. It's awful when people down play your mental health by saying someone has it worse off than yourself, it's so disregarding of them x

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  17. The "cheer up" thing is the worst - people are just so wrapped up and can say the most awful things. There needs to be more understanding xx

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    1. Absolutely Alice, I hate it when people tell me to just cheer up! It's so frustrating xx

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  18. I get so so upset when someone starts pointing out other things when I am talking about my MH and when they go on and on about not having it too bad. This is a brilliant read that everyone (and I repeat, everyone!!!) should do at least once a week to be reminded that we are all worthy of everything!

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    1. It's so frustrating and demeaning when people do that Simona, it's just so bad!

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  19. This is an incredibly important post, where Mental Health is concerned, and I absolutely agree!

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    1. I'm glad you agreed with what I've written here! x

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  20. Could not agree more with all of these! This is the perfect reminder as we go into Mental Health Awareness month.

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