The stigma surrounding mental health doesn’t seem to be as apparent as it once. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a long way to go before we’re all comfortable talking openly about our mental health. Understanding how to support someone when they’re going through a tough time can be difficult. Knowing what to do and say can make a huge difference so if you know someone struggling with their mental health, here’s how you can help.
SPOT THE SIGNS
As mental illnesses are so broad, it can be hard to notice sometimes. There are some signs to look out for though when it comes to certain mental health issues. People who are depressed will often have a change in behaviour, they may not want to socialise or lose interest in things that they once enjoyed. Whereas those with anxiety may avoid certain situations, they might be irritable or have difficulty focusing on something you’re saying or doing at that moment. So spotting the signs can be quite difficult, however simply asking them if they’re ok in that scenario, might help them open up about how they’re feeling.
LISTEN & DON’T INTERRUPT
Whether it’s a friend, your partner, a family member or colleague, if they are opening up to you, listen. Listen and don’t interrupt until they’ve told you they’re done. It’s easy enough to interrupt or try to self-diagnose, but that’s probably not what they want from you. Instead, they need someone that they can pour out to and get support from. Keep your questions open-ended and remember that unless you are a medical expert, the best thing you can do is be there for them. It might not be something that can be solved instantly, so don’t rush them or make them feel pressured to stop.
RECOGNISE A PLEA FOR HELP
It’s sadly the case that a lot of us are so busy with work and other life commitments, that we forget to take a moment to breathe and live in the moment. And that’s also what can happen when someone close to you visibly needs your help. We just need to stop and recognise it before it’s too late. Someone struggling with mental health might not always be vocal about it but when they are, don’t ignore it, even if it’s something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Again, you’re not an expert but running away or ignoring an obvious sign for help is the wrong move.
RECOMMEND SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP
The idea of telling them that they may need professional help can be a little daunting, especially if you’re scared it could backfire. However, you’ll likely have an idea of whether this is really serious or not during your talk with them. If they’re taking drugs or perhaps drinking heavily, then this certainly may be a need to seek help through help4addiction.co.uk as this could be the problem that’s affecting their mental health. It might just be a case of seeing their doctor or a counsellor. Either way, you can only suggest these options as it’s really their choice if they choose to accept the help or not. They may not want to, to begin with, but if they continue to struggle then it’s something that you should repeat until they find the strength in them to seek further help.
REMEMBER TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF TOO
It can be tough to deal with someone’s problems and as strong-willed, as you may be, giving too much of yourself can end up causing issues for yourself. So, it’s important to remove yourself when you need it and to look after yourself. The mind is a very cruel place, and we can all lose ourselves at some point throughout our life. Whether that’s brought on by heart-ache or a traumatic event, remember that you are also a priority and you should make time for yourself if things get too heavy to deal with. This might also be a sign that you need more support for the situation yourself. Involving others can help but be wary of who it is, as you don’t want to cause more upset for the person who needs the help.
I’ve written a post all about opening up to someone helplines and mental health support charities in this post.
Mental health is certainly tricky to navigate. It can be a minefield when it comes to saying or doing the right thing, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is that you listen and give support in any way you can. That’s all you can do, and hopefully, in time, we can all learn and understand more about the complexities of the mind.