Proper Etiquette for Mental Health

Not everyone knows how to address mental health concerns with their family and friends. The correct terms to use, the names of specific disorders, how not to offend a person struggling, and so much more. This page is designed to help anyone who may need educated on the proper etiquette for mental health. 

Interacting with People Who Struggle with Mental Illness

  • Speak directly, honestly, and openly 

    • Ask questions in a respectful manner​

      • "How are you feeling today?"​

      • "Is your anxiety high or low?"

      • "How can I help?"

      • "What can I do to help you succeed?"

  • When meeting for the first time, offer a handshake, but don't push

    • Individuals with OCD may feel uncomfortable with germ exposure, so it is best to not force a handshake​

    • Contact pressure can be triggering for those who suffer from PTSD

    • Those with anxiety may feel anxious when in tight situations 

  • Keep eye contact and use positive body movements

    • Those who suffer from mental illness often feel like the world is against them, seeing reinforcement from friends and family reassures those feelings

    • Constant eye contact often instills a safe and trusted feeling

  • Actively listen

    • Conversations can be hard when someone is struggling with mental health, listening is the best thing to do

    • Ask questions that will help, not hurt

  • Do not blame the person for their mental illness

    • Mental illness occurs in 1 of 5 people, meaning it is extremely common

    • Nothing a person has done has led to their mental illness, it is just the cards they've been dealt. Be supportive!


Additional Resources

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4801 Franklin Ave. 

Des Moines, IA 50310


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