Supporting friends when they're struggling
We want to get real for a moment. There is an increasing number of people suffering from mental health concerns and we are beginning to see it on a daily basis. Sometimes it is hard to identify if someone is suffering from mental health concerns and other times they may be happy to share with you that they are going through a difficult time.
It is always hard to see a loved one, whether it is a family member, friend or co-worker struggling with their mental health and it can be hard to determine how you can help and what you should be doing for them. Firstly the fact that they have told you, or you have noticed means that you are already doing a lot. It shows that you are there for them and that you are close enough to be able to see that they are not feeling themselves at the moment.
If you are trying to support someone who is struggling with their mental health there are a number of things you can do to help them and to be there for them.
Be there to listen
A lot of the time when someone is suffering with their mental health, they may not want to talk about it. It is a lot to download and in many cases they do not want to burden you with their issues. Start by letting them know that you are there for them and that you are happy to listen if they do decide to talk. When they are ready to talk, simply listen to them. Do not interrupt and give too many opinions on different matters unless they ask for your advice. Just be their shoulder to cry on and the ear to listen to them.
Don’t be pushy
When someone is suffering from a mental health illness, trying to push and pressure them into seeking help or in to doing something they are not comfortable with could end up making matters a lot worse. Let them know that you are there for them and can help if they decide they want to seek help however do not push them into it if they are not ready. It does take time for a person to come to terms with mental health concerns and if they are not ready for the help than it will not work and it could make matters worse.
Invite them out
Chances are on many occasions they will still say no to coming out, however keep asking (without sounding pushy). If they decline an invitation say ‘no worries’ and then invite them out on the next gathering. Even if it is just for a cup of coffee, getting out and being in the fresh air with people who care about them can make the world of difference. Even if they continue to say no to coming out they will know that you care about them and are wanting to spend time with them due to you asking them each time.
Where possible it is also a good idea to provide them with information that can help them through this period of their lives. It could be as simple as some brochures for medical places that could help them, a list of local doctors, an information book on the illness they are suffering or a list of ways that can help them when they are in their dark place.
This shows that you care enough to want to help them and that you have taken the time to get things together to help them when they are ready to take that step.
There are many different mental illnesses and each present themselves in their own way. It is important to understand what you are dealing with; the symptoms, triggers and ways to deal with the events that unfold.
Learn about the illness that they have, find out what you can do to specifically help that illness and also let them know that you have done this. They may not understand their illness all that well themselves so you could also help them to learn.
Dealing with a loved one who is suffering from a mental illness can be difficult. There may be times when they do not want to talk to you, when they lash out at you or when they need you by their side to cry on. It is important to take each day as it comes and constantly remind them that you are there for them and willing to help in anyway possible.
You are already a great friend and you will do great helping them through this time of their lives.