It can be painful to see someone you know and love struggle with a mental health problem. All anyone wants to do in these situations is figure out how to reach out and genuinely help the person struggling.
Here are a few ways you can support and help someone who is dealing with a mental health problem.
1. Educate Yourself to Spot the Signs of Mental Health Conditions
It’s essential to first be able to stop the signs that someone you know might be struggling with a mental health condition.
Family and friends are often the first ones to do this, and for good reason – they know the person, so they can notice the changes in behaviors, speech, or any pattern. Educating yourself on various mental health conditions is essential for everyone since it’s the only way you can know if someone is going through a one-time struggle, or might be experiencing something more serious.
The same applies if someone you know is diagnosed with a particular mental health problem. Educate yourself on the condition and learn how it manifests, so you can support your loved one.
2. Talk to the Person
People who struggle with mental health issues won’t always be very upfront about their problems, and they may even react badly if they are confronted about it.
Still, it’s important for those close to the person to create the space where the individual struggling can talk freely about their issues, and even ask for help. You can start by reaching out to the person you see is struggling, and let them know you are available to talk.
If they choose to talk, it’s important not to make them feel ashamed about what they are experiencing. Also, don’t discredit what they are saying either. If they say they feel alone, or lonely, telling them they’re not or ‘that’s not true’ might end up pushing them away.
Even after they are diagnosed and start treatment, the symptoms might not go away for a while. It’s important to continue to show the person they can talk to you about how they feel, and even any difficulties they have regarding their treatment.
3. Be There for Them
Mental health treatment is greatly individualized and usually, a person will go through certain changes in their treatment before they and their mental health professional find an approach that works best.
It’s likely that in conjunction with meditation and various forms of therapy, the mental health professional will also recommend some lifestyle changes to support the treatment. For example, one recommendation could involve taking part in physical activities, in which case the person struggling might benefit from the presence of a friend or family member to take part in these activities with them.
4. Be Understanding
People who struggle with mental health conditions might not always be clear about what they need from those close to them. It’s important to showcase a safe space, which is often created when you show genuine compassion and understanding for what the person is going through.
While you might not 100% know exactly what they are feeling and experiencing, you can be supportive of their healing process. Be understanding that they still might experience hardships even after they start therapy and treatment, and try not to make it seem like it’s a burden on you.
5. Resist the Temptation to Offer Advice
When someone you love is struggling with anything, one of your first impulses might be to offer them some piece of advice, and tell them what to do.
However, while your intentions are good, this might not be so beneficial, for several reasons:
You might not completely understand the mental health problem the person is going through;
Your advice may end up alienating the person if it’s perceived as ‘wrong’, meaning it shows you don’t truly understand their situation;
Offering advice instead of listening may prevent the person from reaching out to you in the future
It’s much better to show the person struggling they can come to you and talk openly, without the fear of being judged or becoming ashamed.
Do You Know Someone Who’s Struggling with Mental Health Problems?
If you or a loved one are dealing with a mental health issue, get the professional help you need and contact Dr. Quintal and Associates Counseling Center in Florida.
We offer a free consultation during which we can better understand the issue at hand and decide the best course of action to address the condition.