It might be hard when you find out someone close to you is struggling with mental health. You might feel overwhelmed, sad, or any number of negative feelings. But there are many things you can do to support and help your loved one.
You have already made a big step by researching the best ways of helping them. So congratulations and thank you for supporting them!
If they need to be recommended to a helpline or professional, they might have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) at their company or they might want to access an external service.
How do I know if someone is struggling with mental health?
It’s not always easy to know how to identify signs of someone close to you struggling with mental health. You might have felt changes in their behaviour, appearance, mood, the things they say or even the things that they post on social media that are telling you there’s something wrong.
How to help someone with mental health issues
There are different things you can do when helping a friend, family member, or a colleague who is struggling with mental health.
- Set time aside for them
Try to organise your schedule and commit to spend time supporting them.
- Research mental health issues
Learn about mental health and ways of coping. Research self-help tools that might be of help or reasons why they might be struggling with mental health and how it affects their daily life.
Let them express their feelings and tell you as much as they want to. Don’t push them to tell you further, they might not feel ready yet and that can make them close up.
- Be non-judgemental
Offering a safe space will help them open up. You don’t want to bring negative feelings to the table.
- Show them your support
Let them know you are there to support them with what you can, whether it is to go buy groceries together, help them to clean the house or to have a movie night with a takeaway.
- Normalise talking about mental health
Don’t wait for them to talk about mental health, removing the stigma around mental health will help in the long run to take care of yourself. This doesn’t mean you’re forcing them to speak about their mental health issues, you can talk about your own mental health to make them feel safer.
- Talk about self-care and self-help tools
Talk about ways of practicing self-care or using self-help tools when they struggle. Keeping active, having a healthy diet, together with a good sleeping pattern will help them feel better. Trying self-help tools like meditation, breathing techniques, or going for a walk in nature might be of help too. Each person needs to find what works for them best.
- Help them find further support
You might want to help them contact their GP or find mental health support. Don’t put pressure on them, understanding they may need professional support can be overwhelming.
- Take care of yourself too
Respect your routines, give yourself time to rest, and especially respect your limits. If you want to try to help them find other close ones or professionals that can support them.
If you believe there is a threat and that your friend might harm themselves or someone else, call 111.
If they need mental health support and they’re employed their employer might offer free professional mental health support, that can be of big help to cope with their issues. Other Free Helplines in the UK that might be of help.