World Mental Health Day – The Do’s and Don’ts Of Discussing Stress with Loved Ones


Monday 10th October marks World Mental Health Day with this year’s theme being ‘Psychological First Aid for All’.

Mental Health remains a taboo subject within the community, making it difficult for individuals to talk about the issue with those close to them. Creating a positive environment where stress and mental health can be openly discussed will not only help to reduce the stigma, but will help your loved one to get the support that they need.

With this in mind, here are some Do’s and Don’ts when discussing stress with a loved one.


1) A few small supportive words. Start with “how are you feeling?” Remember to keep things simple as the last thing your loved one wants is to feel interrogated or put on the spot.

2) Consider your body language. Crossed arms seems defensive and lacks trust. It is not an interrogation, so try to be relaxed and make them feel at ease.

3) Be patient. Stress is extremely personal so it can be daunting for someone to open up about their feelings. Let your loved one open up gradually. Build a strong relationship and keep the line of communication open.

4) Discussing stress is exceptionally confidential, so talk somewhere private and away from distractions.

5) Embrace silence. Allow time for your loved one to gather their thoughts. Simply enabling someone to just stop for a short time can be very beneficial and calming. You don’t need words of wisdom to be supportive; listening can be just as valuable.


1) Don’t use clichés like “pull yourself together” or “there are people worse off than you”. These are generic phrases which are insensitive, impersonal and come across as patronising.

2) Don’t ignore the signs. If you think a loved one is stressed, tackle the issue. It won’t just go away if you leave it.

3) Don’t be afraid to ask the question “do you feel stressed?” It may sound simple, but it could be just the key to offering a loved one the help and support they need.

4) Don’t give advice and share your own opinions as these can muddy the water between yourself and your loved one and leave you in a position of blame.

5) Don’t make assumptions, everyone handles stress differently. It is also essential to never pass judgement as this can worsen situations.

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