Questions People With Mental Health Problems Are Sick Of Hearing!
In the US, one in five adults will suffer from a mental health problem each year. That means that annually 43.8 million adults will suffer from a mental health issue, this could be anything from OCD or anxiety to depression or schizophrenia.
2.4 million adults are living with schizophrenia in the US, that’s one out of every 100 people. While 6.1 million people live with bipolar disorder, 16 million live with serious depression, and 42 million live with anxiety disorders. The saddest statistic of all is that 90% of suicides in the US are people with underlying mental health problems.
Living with a mental health problem can be incredibly difficult at times, so much so that many people with mental health issues will at one point or another question whether it’s worth living with their condition. That’s how serious mental health problems can be. However, not all mental health problems are as severe - like with all medical problems, there’s a scale.
The main issue surrounding mental illness is stigma and ignorance - people not knowing enough about it. Most people with mental health problems have had negative experiences with people asking intrusive, unsympathetic, and frankly rude questions. Of course, for every unkind question, there are lots of kind and caring ones, but that doesn’t mean mental health sufferers don’t get sick and tired of answering the same rude, unthoughtful questions again and again.
Want to ensure you don’t say the wrong thing when talking to a friend, co-worker or relative with a mental health problem? Yes - then steer clear of the questions below!
I feel sad/anxious/have mood swings a lot - do you think I have the same illness?
There is a difference between feeling sad, anxious or having mood swings on the odd occasion and living with a mental health problem that causes them. To learn more about living with an anxiety disorder, use resources like https://psychcentral.com/disorders/. These types of questions might be said with genuine curiosity, but the issue is that they make mental illness sufferers feel as if they are being overly dramatic about their condition and that it’s way more common than it actually is. This question might be well-meant, but it’s rude and offensive and shows a total lack of understanding about the mental health condition in question. Don’t try and connect with the person by finding examples of how you have the same issues, instead just ask them about how their condition affects them and what you can do to help.
Why do you need medicine for that?
A lot of mental illness sufferers choose not to use medication to manage their condition, but some people need to. Take schizophrenia, for instance, most people living with this mental health condition need medication to effectively manage it and lead a normal life - to learn more about it, sites like https://schizlife.com/residual-schizophrenia/ can be useful. For many people living with mental health problems, medication can be life changing - it really can make a huge difference, and the last thing needed is judgement from people who don’t suffer from the condition. Just like cancer is a health condition, so is schizophrenia or depression, and you wouldn’t ask a cancer sufferer why they need medication, would you? If you wouldn’t ask why a sufferer of a physical health problem needs medication, don’t ask someone with a mental health problem why they need medicine - it’s rude and can be offensive.
Why don’t you just snap out of it?
One of the worst questions that sufferers of mental health problems get is this one. This is one of the most offensive questions you could ask someone with a mental health problem as it implies that their condition is in their head and isn’t really an issue. Because mental health problems aren’t physical, a lot of people struggle to understand them. As these conditions can’t be seen, many people don’t think that they exist. But just because mental health problems aren’t visible, that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. If mental health sufferers could snap out of it and go back to being mentally healthy, they would do in a heartbeat. Mental health problems are no joke; they can be totally debilitating.
So, those are the things that you shouldn’t say to people living with a mental illness, but what should you say to them? It’s perfectly fine to ask questions if the person in question has spoken about their mental health problem with you, and is happy to talk to you about it. The most important thing is to treat mental health problems like you would any other health issue, and show kindness and understanding, and empathize with what the person is going through.