14 Things You Shouldn’t Say To a Student With Depression
Being a student is difficult; we’re constantly stereotyped as lazy, shallow and pretty much always drunk. Being a student with a mental health concern is even harder, and the stigma attached to it can be very difficult to cope with. Speaking from experience, I know it’s hard to know what to say sometimes, so here are 14 things to avoid and what you should say instead to be more supportive.
1. “Just think more positively.”
If only it was that easy!
What you should say instead: “I’m always here if you want to talk.”
2. “Stop attention seeking.”
Honestly, if it was attention we wanted, do you really think we’d attract it to our depression? If we’re talking to you about it, that’s a big step in the right direction, not a way to gain more attention.
What you should say instead: “It’s great that you’re talking about your problems and seeking help.”
3. “Get a grip.”
Sure, everyone needs to get a grip sometimes but that doesn’t make it OK to say it to someone going through a difficult time.
What you should say instead: “You’re so strong and shouldn’t feel bad for needing rest.”
4. “I have bad days too but I just get on with it.”
We’re not trying to make you feel as though your bad days are insignificant; we know everyone has bad days, it’s just that you’re better at dealing with them. But believe me, we are trying to “get on with it”.
What you should say instead: “I may not know what you’re going through, but I’m always here to help.”
5. “It’s just your hormones.”
What you should say instead: “I’m sorry you’ve been feeling this way.”
6. “You’re being a total mood killer.”
OK. That really helps.
What you should say instead: “Would you like a hug?”
7. “You’ll lose friends if you keep being like this.”
Any friends you lose because of your depression are not your real friends.
What you should say instead: “Your true friends will understand and always be there for you.”
8. “They gave you an essay extension just for that?”
Yes. And we’d rather not need one, for the record.
What you should say instead: “I’m so glad the university are helping you.”
9. “Maybe if I cried to a tutor they’d give me an extension too.”
If we’ve ever cried in front of a tutor, it’s not to get an extension; it’s because we’re struggling with things that go way beyond essay deadlines.
What you should say instead: “It’s good to know that the help is there for those who need it.”
10. “You’re so selfish, why haven’t you been answering your phone?”
Thank you. That’s just what we want to hear.
What you should say instead: “I was worried about you when I didn’t hear from you, I’m very glad to hear you’re okay.”
11. “Oh my god, that person is so bipolar/anorexic/schizophrenic.”
It’s just great when people trivialise mental health.
What you should say instead: nothing that involves trivialising any form of mental health.
12. “You don’t need medication; you’ll end up dependant on it.”
No offence, but unless you’re a doctor, you don’t know what we do or do not need.
What you should say instead: “It’s good you’re finding a treatment which suits you.”
13. “Your behaviour is so weird and crazy.”
We know that our depression can be confusing. The best thing you can do is support us, not call us out on it.
What you should say instead: “If you need any support, I can help you find it.”
14. “You can just choose to be happy, you know.”
Can we? We didn’t realise.
What you should say instead: “Make sure you look after yourself.”