11 Tips For Talking About Mental Health From Someone With Depression

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Clark McCaskill

It’s Mental Health Week at BuzzFeed, and, in addition to our editorial work, we’ve partnered with Well Being Trust to bring more awareness to mental health. Well Being Trust is a national foundation dedicated to advancing mental, social, and spiritual health in the nation.

My name is Clark, and, from the outside, I’m a pretty happy dude. I’ve got a great life, good friends, an incredible job, and I’m really close with my family.

Instagram: @clarkmccaskill

But I’m also clinically depressed. And it’s something I live with. There are many other conditions people deal with every day, like ADHD, eating disorders, anxiety, psychosis, and more.

But you don’t have to have one of these conditions to practice mindfulness and want to take care of your mental health. It’s something anyone can do to cope with normal life stressors and aid their productivity.

The best thing you can do for someone bettering their mental health is be there and listen. For starters, here are a few things to avoid saying when discussing mental health.

1. “You’ll get over it eventually.”

NOPE. That's not how it works. Just like you don't "get over" allergies. You learn how to deal with it and better your life because of it. What to say: "Time will help you address it better, and let me know if there's anything I can do to help."

What to say: “Time will help you address it better, and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

NOPE. That’s not how it works. Just like you don’t “get over” allergies. You learn how to deal with it and better your life because of it.

2. “But you don’t look sad.”

A computer doesn't look like it's about to freeze up. It just does. The same goes for mental health — sometimes it doesn't show physical symptoms.What to say: "You've seemed a bit off. Are you feeling all right?"

What to say: “You’ve seemed a bit off. Are you feeling all right?”

A computer doesn’t look like it’s about to freeze up. It just does. The same goes for mental health — sometimes it doesn’t show physical symptoms.

3. “Just deal with it like a normal person.”

That's like telling a skateboard to steer like a bike. We'll just deal with it the best we can.What to say: "I hear what you're saying. How can I help?"

What to say: “I hear what you’re saying. How can I help?”

That’s like telling a skateboard to steer like a bike. We’ll just deal with it the best we can.

4. “It could be a lot worse.”

Technically, yeah. But you don't tell someone with the flu it could be a lot worse. It's something we live with, not something we choose.What to say: "Sorry you're having a tough time. I'm here for you."

What to say: “Sorry you’re having a tough time. I’m here for you.”

Technically, yeah. But you don’t tell someone with the flu it could be a lot worse. It’s something we live with, not something we choose.

5. “You’re just having a bad day.”

Yeah, that's true. But it's not just a bad day. It's one in a long line of many and part of the reason why focusing on mental health is so important.What to say: "Today sucks, but know I'm here for you if you just want to vent."

What to say: “Today sucks, but know I’m here for you if you just want to vent.”

Yeah, that’s true. But it’s not just a bad day. It’s one in a long line of many and part of the reason why focusing on mental health is so important.

6. “Try to focus on the good things.”

Buddy. That's why I. care. about. mental. health. What to say: "Let's go do that thing you love!"

What to say: “Let’s go do that thing you love!”

Buddy. That’s why I. care. about. mental. health.

7. “Have you tried exercising?”

Yup. And yoga, meditation, drinking water, and running. And they help, but like your allergies, it's still there and a part of me. But these habits help me achieve positive mental health.What to say: "Want to go for a walk?" (Yes, we're like dogs. We love walks.)

What to say: “Want to go for a walk?” (Yes, we’re like dogs. We love walks.)

Yup. And yoga, meditation, drinking water, and running. And they help, but like your allergies, it’s still there and a part of me. But these habits help me achieve positive mental health.

8. “Do you really believe in practicing mental health?”

It's important to me, just like that thing you really love is important to you. And it's working! So to quote what that one philosopher (*cough* Sheryl Crow *cough* ) said, "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad." What to say: "I'd love to hear what mental health means to you."

It’s important to me, just like that thing you really love is important to you. And it’s working! So to quote what that one philosopher (*cough* Sheryl Crow *cough* ) said, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”

What to say: “I’d love to hear what mental health means to you.”

9. “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

Trust me, I wish it were that easy. But, like a sneeze, sometimes things creep up that we can't immediately control. What to say: "I know you have a tendency to beat yourself up. That's not how I see you."

Trust me, I wish it were that easy. But, like a sneeze, sometimes things creep up that we can’t immediately control.

What to say: “I know you have a tendency to beat yourself up. That’s not how I see you.”

10. “Why are you upset? Your life seems so good.”

Hey, I'll take that compliment! Because it's a result of all the effort put into mental health. But just because life is good doesn't mean we stop our practice. It's like working out; you have to continuously train to keep your body in shape. Same with the mind.What to say: "I can tell that all your hard work has been paying off! What have you been doing?"

Hey, I’ll take that compliment! Because it’s a result of all the effort put into mental health. But just because life is good doesn’t mean we stop our practice. It’s like working out; you have to continuously train to keep your body in shape. Same with the mind.

What to say: “I can tell that all your hard work has been paying off! What have you been doing?”

11. “You don’t seem unhealthy to me.”

What it means: Healthy is more than just a physical state of being. Healthy is a combination of physical and mental health, as well as social well-being. What you can say: "You haven't seemed off. How are you feeling?"

What it means: Healthy is more than just a physical state of being. Healthy is a combination of physical and mental health, as well as social well-being.

What you can say: “You haven’t seemed off. How are you feeling?”

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