Be Ready for the Ups & Downs

Helping someone with mental health issues can put supporters on the proverbial “emotional rollercoaster.” Don’t give up. Stay connected and be sure to take care of yourself too.

Some days you feel that you know just what to do to be helpful and it seems to be working. Other days, it can feel like everything is going backward, and you feel frustrated, helpless, anxious, or overwhelmed.

Practice empathy, not just sympathy. It will give you the emotional space needed to be an empathetic supporter and serve as a reminder that this isn’t about you. 

Finally, take steps that give you the strength, resilience, and energy to be an effective supporter. Offering care to someone starts with caring for yourself.

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Share Hope

Hope is one of the most important gifts supporters can bring to the mental health journey. Your hope empowers the person you care about to begin to imagine a better life, even when they cannot envision it themselves.

Everyone can put together a vision of hope in their own words, no matter how severe their mental health condition. Help them write down their specific vision for the future. Recognize that hope can be fragile, and a person can be crushed by causal or even well-meaning comments. Support their vision, even if aspects seem unrealistic at first. Over time, the person may – as we all do – adjust the specifics to adapt to current realities and new opportunities. 

When you can offer positive encouragement, the person you are trying to help will be more appreciative of your support and more likely to make progress.

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A person’s mental health journey will likely last a lifetime. While there will be setbacks, there will also be triumphs. Recognize and applaud every step of progress, no matter how small.

Celebrating victories helps to make the mental health journey a more successful one. Recent research shows that confrontation and punishment are not drivers of long-term change and life success. What works? Accelerating access to positive reinforcement.

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Focus On Strengths

As a caring supporter, your most important opportunity is to reinforce strengths, not diminish them by finding flaws. Instead help your loved one feel and be stronger by acknowledging small steps forward and the work it took to achieve them.

To help you appreciate their effort, use a “strengths-based” approach to describing situations, rather than focusing on the negative.

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Ask & Listen

Express your desire to understand what the person is going through by asking questions and being fully present in the conversation.

Welcome them as they are. Ask to hear their story and how they’re feeling. Inquire about behaviors that seem unusual or concerning. Whether good or bad, their experience is their story, and important to respect.

Avoid acting without full knowledge of what has happened or how the person perceives it. Instead take time to listen carefully and gain empathetic understanding of the situation.  That will allow you to be a more effective supporter and partner.

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It’s not your job to “fix” the person. Your role is to be a great partner, helping them to stay focused and hopeful. You aren’t expected to be an expert or have all the answers. Remember, it is their journey, not yours.

Supporters can overcome the fixer mindset by practicing “empathetic detachment.” Empathize with their situation but embrace that you’re not responsible for changing it.

Instead, provide a safe space and allow them to determine what level of support will help them most at that point in time.

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Let your friends know that you are feeling like you

would like to talk.

Be strong by reaching out for support from

your friends and family.

If a friend is experiencing mental health concerns, you can provide valuable support by letting your friend know you are there to talk and listen.



Looking for a simple way to #GoFirst and start an open and honest conversation about mental health? Send this sticker to a friend, asking, “how are you, really?” and show your support by listening to what’s on their mind.

Talking about how we feel to those we love can help us feel supported and less alone. Try sharing your “current mood” with a friend. It can work both ways. If you open up, it might encourage them to do the same.


If you notice a friend or family member who doesn't seem quite like themselves lately, check in and start a conversation.


Check in on those around you every once in a while by sending this sticker and letting them know you truly care about how they’re doing.

okay to say animated headline

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month

Start an open conversation about mental health with Okay to Say™, an award-winning public awareness campaign with one simple message: It’s okay to talk openly about mental health.


3.6 million Texans*

are currently living with a mental illness.
*Source: Mental Health America

83% of Americans*

say it’s easier to open up if someone else goes first.* If you are worried about a friend or family member, tell them about a time when you experienced a mental health concern.
*Source: Nonfiction Research, “Intimacy in America”



okay to say share hope

During Mental Health Awareness Month in May, nine life-sized letters will be placed throughout Dallas that, when brought together, display a powerful message: “Share Hope.” Area residents are encouraged to write messages of hope on each of the letters, as a way of showing their support to their neighbors experiencing a mental health challenge.

share hope letters

The letters will be on display again July 21-31 at Hamon Hall during the performances of The Art of Broken Things, a play focused on mental health that is written and performed by local high school students who are members of Cry Havoc Theater Group. The play explores explore the ways in which we experience and talk about our feelings and mental health.

Here’s where you can find the letters:

Dallas Arts District Block Party on April 29
Booker T Washington High School
Children’s Health
Dallas City Hall
Dallas College, El Centro Campus
HALL Arts Hotel
Jewish Family Services
KPMG Plaza
Trammell Crow Center

Share a photo of one of the SHARE HOPE letters using #GoFirst and tagging @okaytosay for the chance to win a $100 gift card to Ellie’s at HALL Arts Hotel and two tickets to see
Cry Havoc’s performance of The Art of Broken Things.

While you are in the Arts District

The Nasher will be offering an interactive audio guide that can be accessed via mobile phone during a museum visit.

Slow down to become fully present with works of art and find words of inspiration from artists who have lived through extraordinary times. This interactive audio tour is designed for you to discover opportunities for healing, reflection and hope during your time at the museum.


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