Youth and Mental Health 101

Conversation starters

Be supportive

Be supportive

If your friend or family member shares what’s happening for them, you can validate their experience by showing you understand how difficult things may be for them.

You could say:

"I’m sorry, that really sucks."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"That sounds like a lot to deal with."

Try to avoid comments that might sound as though you think they can control how they think or feel, or that their experience isn’t such a big deal.

Don't say:

"Everyone feels this way sometimes."

"I’ve felt like this before—you’ll get over it soon enough."

If you have had a similar experience that you are comfortable sharing, it might help your friend or family member to feel less alone. You may also be able to share healthy ways that you coped with these challenges, and positive strategies that worked for you.

Important: Remember that different strategies work for different people. So, if you share your own experiences and how you coped, don’t pressure your friend or family member to do the same things. It’s more important to just listen, and encourage them to find coping strategies they are comfortable with.

If you can, continue to be there for them. Spend time together like you normally would. Try to keep most of your conversations on topics that you usually talk about, and not always about their mental health. Your friend or family member is still the same person you knew before—people don’t want to be defined by their mental health challenges.

After they have shared their experience, you can tell them that you are glad they told you about it and offer to keep the conversation going.

You could say:

"I’m glad you talked to me. Do you want to meet tomorrow? We can just hang out or we can talk more—or maybe there’s some other way I can help."

"Thanks for telling me this has been going on. If you ever want to talk more, let me know."

Youth and Mental Health 101 © , CAMH.