Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, a lot of people were talking more honestly about their bad mental health days (or weeks, or months) online. And now that we’re experiencing widespread loneliness, unemployment, uncertainty, illness, and grief—during a time when our lives have become increasingly virtual—it makes sense that a lot of us are seeing more posts like this in our feeds.

Still, it can be hard to know the best response when jokes and cries for help sound so similar, and that’s especially true when someone is posting in a public forum. You might feel nervous you’ll say the wrong thing, or don’t want to be seen as overreacting to a post that they didn’t mean for anyone to take too seriously. You might also wonder if it’s really your place to say something, or assume their other friends have it covered, or worry about misjudging the friendship and implying a level of intimacy that they (or you!) aren’t necessarily feeling.

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