When someone you care about is open with you about their mental health struggles, do you struggle with knowing what to say or how to show support? These conversations can be tricky because even though you want to say the right thing, it can be challenging to know what that is or what that person needs from you in the moment. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the five most important ways to support someone who is struggling with mental health issues. From listening without judgment to reminding them to take time for themselves, you’ll learn how to support friends and family with their mental health.
1. Educate yourself on mental health topics and different disorders
To better understand the struggles your friend or family member may be going through, it is important to educate yourself on mental health topics and different mental disorders. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to treating mental illness. By educating yourself on types of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, and ADHD, as well as symptoms, triggers, and treatments, you will be better equipped to support your loved one.
Luckily, there are many resources available to educate yourself on mental health topics and disorders. You can research online, read books and articles, or watch videos and documentaries. You can even attend mental health awareness events.
Additionally, online support groups and online communities are dedicated to helping people learn more about mental health.Talking to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker, to get more information can be helpful as well.
We have a number of resources for you that you might find helpful, including:
- The Research on Clinical Depression
- 7 Tips for Getting Started with Mental Health Care
- 5 Ways Behavioral Healthcare Can Improve Your Life
- 5 Amazing Benefits of Esketamine Nasal Spray
- What is OCD? Symptoms, Themes, Treatments, & More
- What is TMS Therapy?
2. Listen without judgment and offer support
When supporting our friends and family that are struggling with mental health, we must seek to understand and offer support without judgment. It can be easy to want to ‘fix’ the situation and offer advice or solutions, but it can be more helpful to simply listen and acknowledge their emotions or struggles.
Showing that you are patient, understanding, and willing to listen without judgment can help the person feel comfortable and be more willing to open up and talk about their feelings and experiences. Make sure that your friend or family member knows that whatever they are going through, you are there and will do your best to understand, even if it doesn’t always seem so easy. Let them know they can come to you and trust that you won’t judge or blow off their problems. Let them take the lead and offer your support and understanding.
3. Respect their privacy and don’t pressure them to talk about things they’re not comfortable discussing
When supporting a friend or family member with mental health struggles, remain respectful of their privacy and never pressure them to talk about anything they are not comfortable with or ready to discuss. It is all too easy to forget that someone who is dealing with mental health issues often has difficulty setting and maintaining boundaries. It is imperative to respect their existing boundaries and not try to push them outside of their comfort zone. Listening without expectation and providing a safe, non-judgmental space is the best way to offer support while also honoring their right to privacy.
It is also essential to not insinuate that they should open up about any issues they have not made clear they are willing to discuss. Too often, people dealing with mental health issues can be made to feel like they are obliged to share their innermost thoughts and feelings, regardless of their wishes at the moment. This can manifest through subtle comments and questions that seem harmless but may create an uncomfortable environment and can lead to further feelings of isolation and overwhelm. It is therefore important to be mindful and refrain from making assumptions about what a person is thinking or feeling when they are not ready to share that information.
4. If appropriate, encourage them to seek professional help
If they bring up the option of getting professional mental health support, or if you think it is appropriate to suggest during a calm conversation, then it can be helpful to encourage friends or loved ones to seek professional help. (However, we do not recommend suggesting they seek help during a moment of crisis. Instead, focus on helping them ground themselves first. Get more tips on that in this blog post.)
Mental health professionals are equipped to provide the best care and resources based on the individual’s persistent or underlying mental health issue. If they mentioned feeling overwhelmed or are experiencing persistent symptoms, gently suggesting that talking to a mental health professional might give them the support they need.
As someone supporting a friend or family member, try to understand their hesitation or resistance to seeking professional help. Many people may be afraid of seeking this type of help due to not knowing what’s involved or feeling embarrassed to talk about their struggles with an outsider. They may also fear that getting help will make them weak. However, in reality, it takes strength and courage to ask for help. Reassure your friend or family member that seeking professional help can make a huge difference in their life. It does not come with any shame. Also let them know that you are available to support them if they pursue professional. Seeking professional help can be stressful, and your support might help them follow through.
5. Promote self-care and remind them that it’s ok to take time for themselves
Self-care is often the first line of defense in managing mental health struggles. Remind friends and family members who are struggling to take care of themselves and set aside time for activities they enjoy. Exercise, reading, spending time with positive people who they trust, listening to music, pursuing hobbies, and practicing relaxation methods are all great ways to de-stress. Eating healthy meals and drinking plenty of water can also support mental health and remind them that they are worth the effort they put in to take care of themselves.
It’s also important to remind them that it’s okay to take time for themselves. Sometimes those experiencing mental health issues can feel guilty for resting and asking for help. However, taking a break and establishing healthy boundaries is key for self-care and can be beneficial to their recovery. Advocating for themselves as well as recognizing and honoring their own needs and limitations will help them feel in control of their own situation and find balance. Your support and understanding can help make this process easier for them and encourage them to take the steps necessary for their own mental health and well-being.
It can be difficult to support friends and family with mental health issues, but it is an important and noble thing to do. By educating yourself on mental health topics, listening without judgment, respecting their privacy, encouraging professional help, and promoting self-care, you can help in a very meaningful way. Showing understanding and validation will go a long way in helping your loved ones heal, and that’s why it’s important to take the steps necessary to be the best support system for them.
Is your friend or family member wondering where they can get expert mental health services? They can book same-day consultations with us at Mindful Health Solutions. Have them contact us online or give us a call at 844-867-8444 and they will get the support they deserve today.