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    What NOT to Say to Someone with Mental Health Issues (and What to Say Instead)

    It’s natural to want to help someone struggling with anxiety or depression. But while our intentions are good, sometimes the wrong words can make things worse.

    Here at Stride Forward Counseling, we believe in communication that heals, so let’s unpack what not to say, and offer helpful alternatives:

    ❌ “Snap out of it.”

    This dismissive statement trivializes the complexity of mental health struggles. Imagine telling someone with a broken leg to “walk it off.” Instead, validate their experience: “I know this is tough, and I’m here for you.”

    ❌ “Don’t worry, be happy.” ☀️

    Easier said than done, right? This platitude dismisses the very essence of their struggle. Acknowledge their difficulties: “I understand you’re worried, and it’s okay to feel that way.”

    ❌ “Have you tried…?”

    Unsolicited advice, even well-meaning, can feel patronizing. Let them know you’re open to listening: “If you’d like to talk about it, I’m here. No pressure to share anything you’re not comfortable with.”

    ❌ “At least you have…”

    Comparisons are rarely helpful. Focus on their individual experience: “Your struggles are valid, and you deserve to feel better.”

    **❌ “It’s all in your head.” **

    This minimizes the very real biological and environmental factors influencing mental health. Show your support: “I know there might be a lot going on right now, and I’m here to listen.”

    **✅ “I see you struggling, and I care.” **

    Acknowledge their pain and show your concern.

    ✅ “What can I do to help you?” ❓

    Empower them by putting the conversation in their hands.

    ✅ “I’m here to listen, without judgment.”

    Offer a safe space for them to express themselves freely.

    **✅ “I’m proud of you for reaching out.” **

    Recognize their courage in seeking support.

    **✅ “We can get through this together.” **

    Offer hope and let them know they’re not alone.

    Remember, communication is a two-way street. Actively listen, ask open-ended questions, and respect their boundaries. At Stride Forward Counseling, we’re dedicated to supporting individuals and families on their journey towards mental well-being. If you’re struggling, please know you’re not alone. Reach out to us today at or call (443) 840-7862

    Mental Health Resources for Supporting Others:

    Here are some helpful links to guide you in supporting people with mental health issues:

    General Resources:

    Resources for Specific Conditions:

    Communication Tips:

    Additional Resources:

    • Online Therapy Platforms: Talkspace, BetterHelp, Cerebral
    • Support Groups: Local support groups or online communities


    • Be a good listener and offer support without judgment.
    • Validate their feelings and experiences.
    • Encourage them to seek professional help if needed.
    • Respect their boundaries and pace.
    • Take care of your own mental health as well.

    I hope these links and tips provide you with the tools to effectively support those facing mental health challenges.