1) ‘How are you?’ Some people might feel as if they’re prying by asking someone who they know is struggling how they are. Mental health problems or not, we are all people and sometimes we’re okay, other times we’re not. You don’t have to advise or provide solutions, just listen and be a friend.
2) Ask how you can help. It may seem simple but give them the opportunity to tell you what they need. The fact that you ask will mean something because it will show them that you care and are making an effort to help.
3) ‘Do you want to go out on? Don’t stop inviting them to nights out and events because of their struggles, instead, try to help them live a ‘normal’ life and show that you don’t judge them and you appreciate their company.
4) ‘You deserve to be happy.’ Whether it’s due to the illness itself, self-stigma or poor support, many people with mental health problems come to the conclusion that they deserve to feel the way they do. Your words could encourage them to get help sooner rather than later.
5) ‘I’m so glad you’re in my life.’ How we express our love and appreciation for people so much more after they pass, when they can’t hear it anymore. I wish we expressed more before this.
6) ‘Remember when…’ Sometimes things seem so dark that it’s hard to remember there was ever light. Talk about good memories. Plan to make more.
7) ‘You’re not a weirdo.’ Having different thoughts or feelings to the people around you can make you feel like you don’t fit in or ‘belong’. Remind your friend/loved one that you love them for who they are, and they are not just their illness.
8) ‘You can be honest with me.’ People struggling often feel like no one understands, forgetting that no one can understand unless they share what they’re going through. Being that person they know they can share everything with is one of the most rewarding and beautiful thing you can do.
9) Never invalidate the person feelings. Everyone has a right to their own feelings. They may not always be rational, but that doesn’t make them any less real to that person. For that reason alone, they matter. Please don’t ever tell them to “get over it,” or “it’s not really that bad.”
10) Be there when they need it. And, by being there, I mean to be present. If you’re wanting to be there for someone, be there physically and mentally.
11) ‘Do you want to go for a walk?’ We are indoors way too much these days. Take in some fresh oxygen and do some deep breathing with your friend to slow those racing thoughts down.
12) ‘How is treatment going?’ Treatment is a difficult and emotional process and having someone to talk to about it (other than professionals) can be really helpful. Don’t feel the need to tiptoe around the subject. Fight the stigma; the person struggling will probably really appreciate it.
13) Bring them a meal. Self-care is another one of those things that are among the first things to go when depression arises, and for some people that includes eating. Offer to cook or bring over takeout.
14) Put together a care package with all of their favorite things. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to do this. Buy a $1 bag at the dollar store and fill it with some things they love. Pack some of their favorite snacks, gift card or some self-care items
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