5 Things Not To Say To People With Mental Health Conditions
Mental health problems are often swept under the rug. Let’s wake up to these issues and approach them with sensitivity and empathy.
Mental health issues affect more than 15% of the Indian population. Unfortunately, unlike physical ailments, people around us could be impervious to our tiff with mental health issues. We respond with empathy and kindness to people with visible physical impairments. But we often ignore the raging battles brewing inside a mental health patient.
We forget to temper our interactions with others who seemingly appear fine but might suffer from mental health issues. We fail to realize that diseases of the mind impair internal functioning, resulting in various conditions such as anxiety, depression, and many more.
So let’s take a deeper look at some common things we say and why we should think before we utter them casually, particularly keeping mental health in mind.
1. "Go out more"
One of the most common pieces of advice given to quiet people is to go out more and socialise. I’m sure we’ve all heard or maybe even said things like, “Are you an introvert? You have to just talk to people,” or “Don’t be shy. Just go out and meet new people”.
Responses like these are frequently addressed to people who might be suffering from complex problems. One such problem is social anxiety disorder (SAD), a severe mental health issue that causes people to avoid going out to meet.
If you come across someone who shows behaviour associated with SAD, be more considerate of their feelings. Do not tell them to talk to everyone or put them in social situations that might be uncomfortable for them.
You never know how difficult it may be for them to openly express their feelings even to you. Instead, learn more about mental health issues and encourage them to get help if necessary.
2. "Get some exercise"
Exercise is excellent for the body and mind. It has a plethora of benefits, and every adult should try to get about 100-150 minutes of exercise a week for good health. You could start exercising at home to reap its benefits. While this may improve your physical fitness and health, it is not a cure-all. Workouts aren't going to help your severe mental health disorders.
For people with anxiety, a simple thing like going to the gym might feel overwhelming. As helpful as getting exercise would be, just telling someone to "go out and work out" may not solve the problem. Rather, you want to be more considerate and understand that your problems may differ entirely from those with a mental health disorder.
3. "It's all in your head"
For people who are not aware of the struggles of living with a mental health issue, the solutions to many mental health problems may seem simple.
For instance, if you are feeling a bit low, you might tell yourself that you just need a distraction to get over that bad feeling. You might even be able to motivate or cheer yourself up. However, this need not be true for everyone.
So, saying "it's all in your head" to someone who might be struggling with negative thoughts and feelings is highly disrespectful and shows a lack of empathy.
Moreover, different people have different body rhythms. People tend to be in tune with their bodies and can tell when they just feel off or really down.
Some of the physical manifestations of mental health issues can be muscle pains, irregular sleep, and lethargy. So merely shrugging such issues off and not paying attention to nuanced feelings trivialises their struggles and pains.
4. "It's all part of God's plan"
While religion and spirituality have their place in healing and overcoming challenging situations, it is essential to realise that not everyone may share the same belief in God. As lovely as it is to believe that our struggles are part of a bigger plan, it can be inconsiderate to say that to someone suffering from a disease.
Mental illness is a medical issue, and many mental health problems can be cured or managed effectively with proper medication and treatment.
Illness of the mind is not something that happens to people because they are possessed by the devil, demons, or other figments of human imagination. Therefore, chalking medical conditions up to spiritual beings is neither helpful nor practical.
5. "Snap out of it/be positive"
Have you ever asked someone to “Just be positive” or “Snap out of it” when they were feeling down? Can you imagine saying that to someone who has just been in a serious accident?
You would never tell someone to get over it if they’ve lost a limb or were grievously injured. It would be best if you did not say the same to someone suffering from a mental health disorder.
Mental health issues often require chronic and long-term treatment with therapy. They are not problems that one can snap out of or wish away with positive thinking. So, you want to avoid being dismissive of others’ pain and instead be a source of support and empathy if you can.
Mental health issues can affect anybody, and their treatment may get expensive. Secure yourself against rising medical costs and get a Health Plan from Kenko. They cover the cost of mental, dental, and physical health along with medicine expenses, lab tests, and doctor consultations.