Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Mental Health: Healthy Living

Mental health is a state of balance in our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Mental health affects our ability to relate to others, perform day-to-day tasks, handle stress, and make choices.

Everyone experiences changes in mental health from day to day. Even those who are never diagnosed with a mental health condition can struggle with challenges that impact their mental well-being.

Mental health resources and support

This page provides information on how to prevent and cope with mental health concerns. Select an option below for information on how to protect and promote the mental health of individuals and communities.

Tips to boost mental health.

  • Connect with others. Develop and keep strong relationships with people who will support you.
  • Take care of yourself. Drink water, eat a balanced diet, and exercise.
  • Plan something fun. Make time every day to enjoy something you really like to do. Be silly and laugh.
  • Rest. Aim for seven hours of sleep at least. Go to bed and get up at a regular time each day.
  • Deal with stress. Learn to express anger when it’s small instead of allowing it to build. Relaxation breathing, yoga, or meditation can help.
  • Think about today. Focus on living in the moment. Outside, notice the sun or wind on your face, or feel your feet on the pavement. Inside, feel your body in the chair, or your feet on the floor.
  • Give back. Volunteer for a cause or an issue you care about. Help out a co-worker, neighbor, or friend.
  • Challenge yourself. Learn a new skill or set a difficult goal.
  • Ask for help. Call a helpline or hotline.
  • Reduce or stop alcohol and/or drug use. Use the tips listed above to cope with mental health challenges.

Signs and symptoms not to ignore.

It is time to talk about your mental health when:

  • You just don't "feel right" and aren't sure why.
  • Your thoughts or things you do just don't seem to be the way other people think or behave.
  • Your thoughts, feelings, or behaviors are starting to affect your life at home, work/school, or with family and friends in a bad way.
  • You've had some of the signs and symptoms below for more than a week:
    • Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or worthless.
    • Sensitivity to sound, sight, smell, or touch.
    • Feeling overly worried.
    • Not being able to perform at work/school.
    • Feeling like your brain is playing tricks on you and hearing knocking or scratching sounds or your name being called.
    • Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy or withdrawal from others.
    • Changes in sleep patterns or energy levels.
    • Irritability or restlessness.
    • Problems with concentration, memory, or thinking.
    • Loss of appetite or overeating.

Tips for talking about mental health.

Follow these tips when talking to family members, friends, and others about your mental health.

Make sure you’re somewhere you feel comfortable. This could be at home, or somewhere quiet. It can also help to talk while doing an activity where you may feel less pressured, like going for a walk or for a coffee.

Write down what you want to say. If this feels a bit too formal, write some notes on your phone or practice how you want to start the conversation in your head.

If you don’t want to answer all of their questions, that’s okay. Whoever you talk to may have questions, but you can answer them in your own time, or not answer them at all if you don’t want to. The person you're talking to should respect how difficult it is for you to talk to them, and understand that it can take time.

Talk about what they can do to support you. For example, if you’re talking about panic attacks, what could they do to help you if you had one while you were with them? How would they know you were feeling depressed or anxious, and what could they do to help?

Things to say when you're not okay.

I'm not fineI want to talk about itI don't want to talk about it
I’m actually going through some stuff.Do you want to get coffee/lunch/
dinner and chat later?
Thanks for asking, but I don’t feel like going into detail.
Thanks for asking. ______ has been stressing me out lately.Did you hear about ______ (something from the news that’s bothering you)?I appreciate that, I’m just not ready/don’t have the time to talk right now.
I’m in my feels/I’ve got all the feels.I’d love to get your advice about something.I’m still trying to find the right words.
I’m having a day/It’s been one of those days, well, weeks really.Can I text you?I’m not in a talking mood right now. Thanks, though.
I’m feeling some kind of way.Want to take a walk with me?I don’t feel like talking, but I’ll take a hug.
Ugh. I can’t stop thinking about ______.I need to vent.I don’t want to talk, but I don’t want to be alone. Do you have time to just hang out for a bit?
Not so great, to be honest.Do you have time to listen?Can I come to you when I’m ready to talk?
On the struggle bus.I’m having some issues with ______. Do you have time to talk?I’m still thinking things through.
Feeling rough.Can I bounce some thoughts off you?Let’s talk about ______ instead for now.

Tips for talking with someone about their mental health.

Follow these tips when talking to family members, friends, and others about their mental health.

Set aside time. Start the conversation when there is an open window of time to have an in-depth discussion, and you won’t have to cut the conversation short to take care of other obligations.

Ask open-ended questions. Make sure the conversation is not full of questions the other person can answer with a simple yes or no. Instead, open up a space for understanding by asking open-ended questions like:

  • How have you been feeling lately?
  • What have you been doing to cope?
  • What do you want to do about that?

You can also express your concern and encourage the person to talk about what’s going on by offering caring statements like:

  • You seem to be a bit quiet these days. What’s been on your mind?
  • Are you sure? If you want to talk, let me know.
  • It seems like something is bothering you. I’m here to listen if you want to share.
  • I’ve been ‘fine’ before – I’m here if you want to talk about it.
  • That wasn’t very convincing – I’m here if you want to chat.

Listen attentively. What is the person telling you? What’s their body language tell you? Think back to a time you truly felt like someone was listening to you, and how you felt. Emulate that. Listen well so you can absorb what they’re saying and refer back to something they said later on. This not only shows you’re listening, but that you care about the person and what they’ve shared with you. Make sure to put away all distractions (phone, games, etc.) and face the person you’re speaking with. Look at them as they talk to you. Nod your head in understanding when appropriate, and gently inquire about something they brought up.

Do not assume or make judgments. Allow the person to explain how they're feeling, what they need, or what's going on with them. Ask gently for clarification when you need some. If the person tells you things that make you uneasy, or that you might not agree with, such as how they’ve been coping with their feelings, or negative perceptions they have of themselves, do your best to express warm-hearted concern and offer support.

Find a way to help or get help. Sometimes, you might be able to directly help the person. Maybe all they needed was to vent or have someone to talk to and help sort out their feelings. For some people, it might be helpful to send them positive text messages throughout the week, whenever you get the chance. But there are some cases in which the ways you can help are limited. Ask the person if they want to get help and offer them the resources to do so. Assure them there’s nothing wrong with getting the help they need and that by doing so, they’ve taken the first step to feeling better. Sometimes, just hearing this will help lift some weight off of how they’re feeling. Offering to take the person to these helpful spaces, or to find the proper assistance, can go a long way.

Here and ready to help.

You are not alone. Contact the resources listed below to be connected with someone who can help when you're experiencing a mental health concern.

211 Wisconsin

Wisconsin residents may call 211 for information on community resources.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Everyone may call or text 988 or chat at to speak with a trained counselor for any issue.


Law enforcement officers may call 800-267-5463 for support from retired law enforcement officers who understand the stressors of law enforcement careers.

Farmer Wellness Helpline

Wisconsin farmers may call 888-901-2558 to connect with trained counselor for any issue.

LGBT National Hotline

Members of the LGBT community may call 888-843-4564 for peer support.

Physician Support Line

Doctors may call 888-409-0141 for peer support.

Teen Line

Teens may call 800-852-8336 for peer support.

Trans Lifeline

Trans people may call 877-565-8860 for peer support.

The Trevor Project

LGTBQ young people may call 866-488-7386 to speak with a trained counselor.


Everyone may call 534-202-5438 for peer support.

Veterans Crisis Line

Veterans and their families may call 988 and press 1 to speak with a trained counselor for any issue.

Join the Safe Person campaign.

Let others know that you want to offer a non-judgmental listening ear and effective support when able. Safe Person campaign members commit to uphold seven promises. Learn the seven promises and get a decal to show your commitment.

Promote the Saying, Not Saying campaign.

“How are you?” On the surface, it’s such a simple question—and it usually gets a simple answer. For those experiencing a mental health concern, the answer may not be simple. What they say and how they feel can be very different things. They hold back the truth for fear of judgment.

Reducing this fear of judgment is the goal of the Saying, Not Saying campaign. In revealing the things left unsaid when answering “how are you?”, this campaign raises awareness of some signs of a mental health concern. This awareness and common understanding of mental health is the first step toward building supportive spaces where people feel they can be honest when answering “how are you?”.

Share information about the Saying, Not Saying campaign in your community. Use the Facebook posts below. Materials for newspapers, radio stations, and websites also are available. Contact for copies of these materials.

Saying I'm good. Not saying my body always aches. Your mental health isn’t just about emotions. It affects your thoughts, actions, and even physical health. Saying you’re good when you’re not doesn’t help. Your mental health deserves a voice. Let’s break the silence and support each other in taking care of our whole selves. Discover the right resources and support for you: #SayingNotSayingWI #MentalHealthMatters

(Download image for Facebook post 1)

Person looking serious with a blank background on left. Same person on the right in a kitchen with arm on hip.

Saying I'm alright. Not saying I've lost my appetite. You may be used to putting others first—especially when times are tough. But taking care of others starts with taking care of ourselves. So think about what you’re not saying to the people in your life. And remember, your mental health deserves a voice, too. Looking for resources and support? The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has you covered: #SayingNotSayingWI #MentalHealthMatters

(Download image for Facebook post 2)

Person looking serious with a blank background on left. Same person on the right at dining room table with food not eating.

Saying I'm doing great. Not saying I'm burying myself in work. It can be hard to admit when we’re struggling, but it’s important to share our thoughts and experiences. Your mental health deserves a voice. Let’s talk about the challenges we face and support one another. Looking for resources and support? The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has you covered: #SayingNotSayingWI #MentalHealthMatters

(Download image for Facebook post 3)

Person looking serious with a blank background on left. Same person on right with a laptop at home.

Saying I'm all good. Not saying I just can't get out of bed. It's okay to talk about life's challenges. Your mental health deserves a voice. Looking for resources and support? The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has you covered: #SayingNotSayingWI #MentalHealthMatters

(Download image for Facebook post 4)

Person looking serious with a blank background on left. Same person on right in bed.

Saying I'm okay. Not saying I've stopped doing things I used to enjoy. It's okay to not feel okay. Your mental health deserves a voice. Looking for resources and support? The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has you covered: #SayingNotSayingWI #MentalHealthMatters

(Download image for Facebook post 5)

Person looking serious with a blank background on left. Same person on right scrolling through items on a cell phone.


Last revised June 14, 2024