What People Want to Hear When They’re Struggling

The following quotes are taken from interviews with mental health advocates. I asked each of them, “When you’re struggling with mental illness, what is something you wish others would say if you told them?” Here are their responses:

Breaking the Stigma:

“Let me know if I can help”

Charlotte Underwood:

“That I do not have to tell them everything.”

Dan, Psychotherapist:

“It will pass”

Kelly Styron:

“It’s less a wish and more what they do say: I’m there for you. They’ve proven it too. My friends visited me in the hospital. My boss has made the offer of being able to sit in his office, with or without his presence if I’m feeling particularly unwell.”


Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash

Kerry Thomas:

“I wish people would tell me that it’s going to be ok.  That it will be hard but they are there to listen to me and offer their help if I need it.”


“My favourite reaction so far was when I told the person who later became my partner that I suffer from social anxiety. He said, “I had no idea, you’ve never shown any sign of that with me. What’s it like?” He never rubbished anything I said, and instead talked generally about other mental health struggles, and how they manifest differently in other people. He made me feel ‘normal’.”

Mari, Tayo ; Tayo Project:

“To treat me as they treat other people. No prejudice or stigma. Know me, and not just knowing that I have a mental illness.”

Timothy, Tayo; Tayo Project:

“That they are here for me, and present for me every step of the way, not just because it is convenient for them.”

How would you wish others to respond if you let them know you’re struggling?

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