10th September 2019

How To Help Your Loved Ones Deal With Their Mental Health Struggles

TW: Discussion of mental health which some readers may find distressing

Mental health is finally being discussed in the mainstream media.

With increased conversation, more and more people are coming forward and sharing their experiences, opening up about struggles they have faced with their mental health.

Statistically, one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression each year.

It’s therefore likely that someone you know and love will go through a tough time, and experience mental health difficulties.

So, how can you help?

It can feel impossible knowing what to do or say when someone you care about is suffering, especially with something as personal as a mental illness.

However, there are many things you can do to help and show them you care.

Here are some tips on how to help those you love deal with their mental health struggles:

1. Let them speak

Give them room to air their feelings.

Let them speak, and speak freely.

Listen to what they say and offer comfort and support when they need it.

2. Let them be quiet

Equally so, don’t force your loved one to talk about something which may be distressing to them.

Sometimes it’s a comfort just to have you around, so be there for them.

Sit with them and watch their favourite movies, or suggest a walk and some fresh air.

Sometimes people just need to know that you’re there for them.

3. Talk about unrelated things

If your friend doesn’t want to talk about the issue, but equally needs distracting, it’s always good to have a natter.

Chat away about easy things, like work or family events, casual gossip or a funny thread you read on Twitter.

Keeping topics easy and light helps distract people, and laughing can be a great healer.

4. Organise fun days out

Another good distraction is a trip out.

Organise something low stress and fun, to give them a break from their daily lives.

If they’re not up for a trip out right now, why not do something fun at home?

Plan a games night, or a quiet dinner with a few friends.

5. Cook for them

When you’re struggling it can feel impossible to achieve the daily things in life, like cooking.

Offering to help out with small tasks such as this relieves the pressure, and helps massively.

Say you’ll come round with a big pasta dish and some garlic bread, and have a cosy night in.

6. Check in with them regularly

You may not be able to see them in person as much as you’d like, but thanks to modern technology that doesn’t mean you can’t check in.

Send them a text and ask how they are, or ring them in the evening to catch up.

They’ll appreciate that you care, and will feel loved and cherished.

7. Offer to help them with doctors appointments

Organising counselling appointments and medication can be daunting for people struggling with mental health issues, so offer to help.

You can ring the doctor for them, or hold their hand whilst they do it.

Offer to go with them to their appointments, or meet them afterwards for coffee.

If they feel like the experience is shared, it may be less of a burden.

8. Be patient

Mental health is complex, and there is no one answer or cure.

For some people, it can be a short few weeks of difficulties, but for others it can last much longer.

Remember to remain patient, and not grow frustrated should it seem that they aren’t progressing.

It’s different for everyone.

9. Don’t judge their experiences

Try not to judge the situation.

It’s not for you to assume or guess why and how they are suffering.

Support them without judgement, and don’t try and analyse them.

10. Look after your own mental wellbeing

Whilst helping out your loved ones, it’s important to also look after yourself.

Allow yourself space and time, and don’t feel that helping them is your job alone.

Make sure you are keeping your own mental health in check, and are getting support from your friends as well as giving it.

 

 

If you or someone you love is suffering from poor mental health, you can contact the charity Mind in the UK on 0300 123 3393, or the National Alliance on Mental Illness in the US, on 800-950-NAM.

By Charlotte Ellis