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9 Priceless Gifts to Give Someone With a Mental Illness

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Looking for that perfect holiday, birthday or any day gift?

If someone you care about is facing challenges related to mental health issues, you can give them many wonderful gifts throughout the year that won’t cost you a dime. Consider these:

1. Give the gift of assistance.

“Helping others isn’t a chore; it is one of the greatest gifts there is.” – Liya Kebede

Lending a helping hand is a wonderful (and practical) gift. Offer to give someone a ride, run an errand for them or pick up their groceries. Walk their dog, babysit their kids, take out the trash or prepare a meal. You get the idea.

2. Give the gift of knowledge.

“Sharing will enrich everyone with more knowledge.” – Ana Monnar

Share helpful resources, such as books, websites or other tips on improving mental health and overall wellness. But also educate yourself about what your loved one is going through. If you’re better informed, you’ll have greater understanding, patience and empathy for them.

3. Give the gift of time.

“Help one another; there’s no time like the present and no present like the time.” – James Durst

Sometimes just taking a break from everything is what’s needed most. So give your loved a book of coupons redeemable for future blocks of time when you’ll step in and do whatever they need. This will give them time to unplug, relax and renew.

4. Give the gift of encouragement.

“The tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body; use yours to lift someone up today.” – Terri Ann Armstrong

Often your friend or loved one just needs to know things can get better. When they’re discouraged, remind them of the progress they’ve made and how they’re moving forward toward their goals. Tell them what a great job they’re doing and how you’re so proud of them.

5. Give the gift of laughter.

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” – Victor Hugo

Deliver something funny to the people you care about. Watch a comedy show or movie with them, tell a corny joke or remind them of that hilarious time when you both laughed so hard you cried. Laughter really sometimes is the best medicine.

6. Give the gift of tolerance.

“Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.” – Robert Green Ingersoll

Unfortunately, the stigma and discrimination about mental illness is still widespread. Be a beacon of tolerance by not using offensive terms or labels about mental illnesses. Also, be a positive role model by quietly but persistently educating others about the right way to treat those who are dealing with mental health issues.

7.  Give the gift of advocacy.

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou

Show your support for one or more of the many good causes that advocate for mental health by volunteering, attending a meeting or promoting legislation to improve mental health services. Also, help your friend or loved one connect with the great supports and services they offer.

8. Give the gift of self-care.

“Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others.” – Bryant McGill

You can’t take care of others if you don’t first take care of yourself. Don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Not only will you feel better, you’ll end up being a better helper to others.

9. Give the gift of love.

“The greatest gifts are not the material things you receive but the love you give, the friendship you share and the hope you inspire.” – Nishan Panwar

Sometimes the greatest gift is to just let someone know they are loved. Tell them you love them through a card, email, text or best of all, in person. Hugs go a long way, too. Leave no doubt in their minds that you’ll always have their back and you’ll be there for them with your unwavering love and support.

A version of this post originally appeared on David Susman’s blog

The Mighty is asking the following: As someone who lives with — or has a loved one with — a mental illness, what’s one thing that’s particularly challenging around the holidays? Why? What advice would give someone going through similar challenges? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: December 8, 2015
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