May is National Mental Health Awareness Month; What to say and not say in trying to create a supportive environment

Tara Fink ...  Submitted photo.
Tara Fink ... Submitted photo.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative shared the following statements in an effort to stop the silence and start talking about mental illness by sharing what to say and what not to say to create a supportive environment.

What to say:
• Thanks for opening up to me.
• Do you want to talk about it?
• Is there anything I can do to help you?
• I’m here for you.
• Tell me more.
• Are you getting the care and support you need?
• Can I drive you to an appointment?
• How are you feeling today?

Do not say:
• It could be worse.
• Just deal with it.
• Everyone feels that way sometimes.
• You may have brought this on yourself.
• You’ve got to pull yourself together.
• Maybe try thinking happier thoughts.

According to the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative, silence can make people feel even more alone. By starting a conversation it lets the other person know you care about their well- being, being nice, supportive and willing to listen.  To learn more and help end the stigma, visit or email

Help is available locally for those suffering from a mental health issue. Tara Fink, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, joined the Veterans Memorial Hospital Clinic staff just six months ago to offer behavioral health care to help meet the great need for mental health care in northeast Iowa. Fink is available to see patients at both the Veterans Memorial Hospital Postville and Waukon Clinics. To make an appointment to see her in Postville, call 563-864-7221 or in Waukon call 563-568-5530.