We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: it’s okay to not be okay. May is Mental Health Awareness Month so let’s talk candidly about mental health. As a society, we often stray away from conversations about mental health–we’d rather stick to a simple, “you good?” and avoid tough talks with our friends and family. But here’s the thing: sometimes our friends will say they’re fine, even when they’re struggling. We forget that talking about our struggles and mental health journey is a sign of strength, not weakness. When our loved ones are overwhelmed with sadness, anxiety, or stress, it can be hard to know how to support them. We want to help YOU be a support system for those you care about most, so we’ve put together a quick list of 8 things you can do that go beyond just asking, “you good?”
1. Switch Up Your Language
So, you’re entering a conversation about mental health with your friends and family. That’s AWESOME. When chatting, consider switching up the language used and avoid simple “yes or no” questions. Instead of just saying, “you good?” invite them to open up about what’s really going on in their life. Open-ended questions allow others to express themselves in a comfortable setting and share their experience in their own words. Need inspiration for conversation starters? Some of our favorites include: “Tell me how you’ve been feeling lately?” “What’s been on your mind?” and “How can I support you in being the best version of yourself?”
“I know what it can be like to struggle with mental health. Thankfully my family has been supportive in my journey of seeking help, but not everyone has that. I want my peers at school to know that they have resources to seek help. People shouldn’t suffer alone; thanks to this campaign, they’re one step further in the right direction. I never want anyone to feel like they are undeserving of help. Seeking out help for my anxiety and depression has progressed me out of a dark place. Though it can still be hard sometimes, I now know that I have people to talk to.”
— Luthas Center Member Olivia, 17
2. Be An Active Listener
FYI: sharing your personal struggles with mental health can be tough. And it’s especially vulnerable. When you enter into a conversation about mental health with your loved ones, remember they are putting themselves out there and sharing things they often try to keep hidden. One of the best ways to make your loved ones feel safe is by being an active listener. Be present and remain engaged. This means no wishing you were somewhere else, no TV, and definitely no watching TikToks. Keep your focus on the person sharing their story with you. Remember to validate their feelings and thank them for sharing.
3. Celebrate The Wins
It may seem silly, but when someone is struggling with their mental health, celebrating even the smallest of wins can make all the difference. Congratulate your friend on passing their math test or making the football team. Cheer them on as they complete their college applications and celebrate their acceptance to their dream university. Or serve as a voice of encouragement as they attempt to parallel park for the very first time! Lifting others up for both the big and small victories reminds people that we’re not going through life alone–and we have HUGE cheering sections in our corner.
4. Share Your Personal Story
Sometimes it can be scary to talk about mental health with friends and family. And it can be even scarier when you are not sure of their reaction. To help get rid of the stigma around mental health, don’t be afraid to open up about your own battles with mental health. You know what they say–the buddy system is always better! Share how you may have faced challenges with your mental health, offer suggestions for how you coped, and don’t be afraid to ask for support yourself.
“This campaign, and mental health in general, is important to me because I know many close friends and family who deal with mental health issues on a weekly basis. Personally, I’ve had to deal with my own mental health issues, so I know how hard things can get. Because I’ve had such personal experience with mental health issues, I hope to spread awareness of the issue and to provide all possible resources to those experiencing depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental health issues.”
–Luthas Center Member Toran, 18
5. Share Resources
Sometimes, our friends don’t even know where to look for mental health resources and support. But that’s where you come in! Be an ally for having an open dialogue about mental health wellness, and share access to diverse mental health resources with your friends, family, and community. Our It’s (NOT) All in Your Head campaign makes it super easy for you to share diverse mental health resources in your school and community.
“This campaign is important to me because I was someone who struggled to find resources near me. I felt the need to share these resources with some of my friends and classmates because sometimes it could be hard to admit you need mental health support. Putting these flyers up allowed people to just simply take a little paper thing without feeling judged.”
— Luthas Center Member Jennifer, 17