Positive Words for People with Mental Illness

Positive words can be incredibly powerful if you have a mental illness. Here are some positive words of encouragement from HealthyPlace.

The power of positive words is undeniable, yet negative self-talk is a feature of many mental health conditions. The good news is, learning to override those negative thoughts with positive words of encouragement can be a key factor in surviving – nay, thriving – when you have a mental illness.

In the words of J.K. Rowling’s Albus Dumbledore, "Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic." So how can you conjure the magic of positive words?

Positive Words of Encouragement for People with Mental Illness

If you're reading this during a period of anxiety or depression, you probably don't want to delve too deep to find positive words of encouragement. To help you see just how powerful the right words can be, here are some inspirational quotes to help you move into a more positive headspace.

"Promise me you'll always remember — you're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." — Christopher Robin from Winnie the Pooh.

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths." — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross from Death: The Final Stage of Growth.

"I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship." — Amy March, from Little Women.

Positive Words to Promote Mental Wellbeing

Reading the positive words of others is only one way to promote mental wellbeing. It can also be therapeutic to write positive words about life with a mental illness. Writing letters to yourself or others, for example, can be a powerful tool to aid your recovery or help you live better with a mental illness.

For instance, in 2012, former counselor and depression sufferer, James Withey, (along with psychologist Olivia Sagan) launched The Recovery Letters: a series of online letters written by people recovering from depression addressed to those currently affected ("Positivity for Depression: Is That Even Possible?"). The letters were compiled into an anthology to offer hope and inspiration to those with depression. Since publication, thousands of readers have written to the authors claiming the book saved their lives or played a crucial role in their recovery.

Author Matt Haig also adopted the technique of letter-writing in his memoir of depression and anxiety, Reasons to Stay Alive. Throughout the book, the author addresses his past self (the twenty-four-year-old who thought of ending his life standing on a cliff edge in Ibiza), from a place of understanding and recovery. He writes:

"THEN ME: This pain though. You must have forgotten what it was like. I went on an escalator today, in a shop, and I felt myself disintegrating. It was like the whole universe was pulling me apart. Right there, in John Lewis.

NOW ME: I probably have forgotten, a little bit. But listen, look. I'm here. I'm here now. And I made it. We made it. You just have to hold on."

If you have a mental illness, writing a letter to yourself can be incredibly therapeutic. On your worst days, you can look back at the positive words you wrote when you felt hopeful and know that the negative emotions will pass.  

Writing a List of Positive Words for Mental Wellbeing

You don't have to write yourself letters, start a blog or pen a bestselling memoir to benefit from the power of positive words. Instead, you can repeat positive affirmations to yourself such as, "I am physically and mentally strong" or "I can get through this."

Alternatively, you can write a list of positive words that describe you or your life to distract your mind from negative thinking. Start a mind-map and jot down anything and everything you like about yourself, whether it's that you listen well to others, that you're funny, brave, or empathetic, or even that you like your physical features. Those positive words make up the entirety of you, and they deserve just as much attention – if not more – than your negative thoughts, so make room.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2021, December 31). Positive Words for People with Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Last Updated: March 25, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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