Don’t be scared of saying the wrong thing. Saying something is better than nothing.

I see so many posts on social media about what we should and should not say to someone when they are struggling with their mental health. So many things saying, you must not try to fix the problem, you should not challenge them, you should not encourage them to move forward, you must listen, you must empathetic, you must let them find their own answers, you must sit with them in the dark.

This type of rhetoric around mental health is intended to improve the response for people struggling and I fear may actually only make the response worse.

We could scare people into ignoring a problem through fear of saying the wrong thing.

Don’t get me wrong yes there are some big No No’s. Some common sense things like not putting the person down, totally ignoring them or belittling the reality of what they are struggling with. However for me at least it is not just as simple as wanting someone to listen. So for all my friends at least please know….

I love your advice.

You are often full of such unique ways of looking at things. I love and want your advice. You are my friend and by that very nature I respect you. I know advice is simply that and I don’t have to follow it, but I think at least half the time I do and it helps.

So please continue to pile on the what ifs, maybes, you could try… if I ever feel like I have reached my capacity for ideas I will let you know.

I love your encouragement.

There have been so many times when I have been rock bottom and I have heard your quiet words… ‘You can do this.’, ‘It will be ok’, ‘Tomorrow is another day.’

Please continue to bathe me in your positivity, to remind me of the light in the dark. And if I don’t hear you feel free to say it louder and louder until you break through my abyss and shatter the darkness to a thousand pieces.

I need your challenge.

Sometimes I need a push. I need to be reminded of what I am capable of. I need the kick up my arse. Please keep challenging my decisions, my actions, my words. I know I am not right all the time, sometimes I need to be reminded of that.

Yes I need time but you can’t take that from me anyway. Ultimately it’s will always be down to me to move forward, but feel free to try and expedite the journey.

I know you are not a trained professional.

I know you haven’t had years of training in listening and coaching. If I need professional counselling I will seek it. Still you are my friends and so I trust you and I appreciate you listening and doing afterwards what ever feels natural to you. If you don’t want to say anything that’s fine. If you want to talk more we can. I love you just the way you are confidant not counsellor.

So in closing…

When did we start expecting everyone to have a degree in psychology? Yes I expect everyone I care about to be kind because I wouldn’t like you if you were not kind. However I also respect you are all unique and what one person thinks is showing kindness another person would think if cruel. You be you, I’ll be me and we will meet in the middle.

Let’s not build a culture of fear around mental health. Let’s not judge the response of others because we are asking them not to judge us.

Don’t forget follow The Happy Path for more tips and inspiration to live your happiest live.

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