What to say to a friend with mental illness

Also, what NOT to say

“The experience I have had is that once you start talking about a mental health struggle, you realize that actually you’re part of quite a big club.” — Prince Harry

Even though we're talking more about mental illness these days, the truth is, many people have no idea how to talk with someone who has mental illness. 
People with mental illness hear a lot of conflicting messages. There are some things people say that cause more harm than good and can be minimizing, insulting and downright disrespectful.  Your messages can also bring hope, encouragement, inspiration and the will to keep going.
For decades I've lived with loved ones who have persistant and serious mental illness. This journey has taught me a few things about what others do and do NOT want to hear. 
   What to NOT say:

  1. It’s all in your head.  Mental illness impacts people's bodies, movement, energy levels and mood.   
  3. You’re just overthinking.
  5. Stop focusing on the negative. Just try to be happy.
  7. Everyone feels that way at one time or another.  
  9. I know how you feel. Uumm, no. No, you don't. You do not sit in the other's mind or body or experienced the same things than they have and for how long they've been ill.  You do not fully know how they feel. 

   What to say: 

  1. You can get through this. I'm here to help. Some mental health problems are severe and last a lifetime.  On average it takes sick people 10 years before they get help. With the right therapies, medication and support team, people can be helped.  
  3. You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  This is one of my personal favorites from Pooh. It takes great strength, courage and persistence to keep trying to get better. 
  5. It's OK not to be OK.
  7.  You are not broken.  
  9. It's not your fault. No-one chooses to have a mental health condition.   

Every person deserves to live a healthy and happy life. Just like any other illness, it takes a whole team to help someone recover. The journey is long, and the love can be stronger! 
There’s something we can do.  

A team of Love Agents will write love notes on Wed., March 2nd from 1-3 pm. Another group will meet from 5-7 pm. Also, we're sending Love Box kits.  We can provide a family a glimmer of hope, so they know they're not alone, they are worthy, and that people care about them.
Will you offer caregivers and friends support when they are at their most vulnerable?  
Will you give a gift of your heart? Will you share your love in a love note or with a Love Box kit? These friends need someone to show them they're not alone and that they are loved.
Please let me know if you want to join us or gather a group of friends or co-workers to write notes.   
Here's to HOPE!  
   Christine Martinello

Founder, Love Box Foundation
   Love Box Kits & Love Notes for Mental Health.
   You can gift an Original Love Box kit to a family ($25 each) here: