There's a similar question here on meta that asks how to respond to questions where OP needs professional help.

Then someone wrote an answer to a question on the main site stating that the one of the parties involved, not the OP but their neighbor, may be mentally ill. The answer was initially poor, containing only an anecdote without the application to the question. However, I wonder how we should handle questions where someone may need professional help. I was going to link the meta question in a comment to the answer, but the answers in the meta question didn't seem to apply in this situation. I guess I'm hoping to establish a repository of help for when professional help is needed.

  • 6
    Note that we frown upon making diagnoses, whether that be diagnosing OP or someone else mentioned in the question. So that alone disqualifies this answer.
    – scohe001
    Sep 5, 2019 at 18:17
  • 4
    Another thing to note (which you quite accurately pointed out in your comment on the answer) is that the answer making the diagnosis provided a relevant anecdote, but didn't actually provide any application of the situation to the original question. In that case it's not really an answer and should be removed.
    – Rainbacon
    Sep 5, 2019 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


I don't think this really is a case of a question where anyone actually needs professional help. There's a few things getting tangled here:

First, the question does not indicate at all that the person OP is dealing with is in desperate need of professional help. We can never be sure in this case, but a change in attitude can have many more benign causes than mental illness. So, I feel safe to assume this isn't one of those cases where we need to suspect mental illness.

Secondly, the question is asking about how to address the breakdown in communication. Which is a good question: it focuses on OP, and what they can do. The question is perfectly answerable without considering a mental illness.

Now, we get to the tricky point: Someone wrote an answer saying the change in behaviour might be caused by mental illness. Note that the writer of that answer is also just self-diagnosing the person they were interacting with at the time: They say they're sure the person was hallucinating and mentally ill, but they don't mention that the person themselves actually admitted being diagnosed as such. This does not mean the neighbour from the question is mentally ill too.

The answer talks about what this, allegedly mentally ill, neighbour did. But what it forgets to mention is how mental illness can influence reaching out to someone, how it invalidates the suggestions done in all other answers, and what OP should do instead. It's basically not an answer.

We've had discussions on questions that do involve people with diagnosed mental health problems before, but this is basically not one of those questions. To see examples of some problematic questions that deal with professional help, but not specifically for OPs:

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .