How can I support a friend or family member who may be struggling with their mental health?

Has a friend or family member recently been struggling with their mental health? If so, it’s normal to feel helpless and not know how to support them. While our intentions may be good, providing unnecessary advice or reassurance is unhelpful and can make the situation worse. So, how can we show our support to them and ensure they find the right help? In this article, we’ll explore practical ways to be on their side and be there when they need it most.

1. Acknowledge Your Friend’s Struggles

It’s important to show support and let your friends know that you care and understand. Some tips on how to show understanding and appreciation to a friend who’s struggling are:

  • Listen attentively – Let your friend tell their story or talk about their experiences without any judgement. Provide your full attention and hear them out.
  • Show understanding – Acknowledge your friend’s struggles and show understanding towards their situation. Accepting and understanding their feelings is the first step to support them.
  • Offer assistance – Offer assistance in any way you can like being there for them, offering advice, etc. Anything that you think would be helpful and make them feel more supported.

Sometimes talking about a friend’s problems is not enough and you may want to show your support with a simple gesture. Let them know you’re there for them by sending a physically gift, a nice card, or simply giving them a hug. Show them that you’re aware of their struggles and that you are there for them.

2. Be a Source of Encouragement

Being an encouraging presence can mean showing genuine interest in their day-to-day lives, offering your support, and celebrating their successes. Here are three simple ways to be the person who uplifts everyone’s spirits around you:

  • Praise their efforts. Even if their creative project was a flop, remind them of the amount of work they put into it. Appreciate their ambition and courage.
  • Offer a listening ear. Everyone needs someone to listen to their worries, even if there’s no solution to them. Show them that you’re there for them and that you care about their well-being.
  • Share helpful resources. Books, websites, advice — lend them a hand and equip them with the information and support that they need.

Encouraging someone can be like sending a little thrill into everyone’s day. Let the people around you know that they matter and that their work is valued and cherished by you. You can be this source of positivity!

3. Offer Practical Support

When your friend is going through a tough time, offering practical support can often be more helpful than kind words alone. Practical support can include concrete advice and help with tasks that your friend may be struggling to manage. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Make Regular Phone Calls: Make sure to check in on your friend with regular phone calls to let them know that they’re not alone. Even if they do not feel like talking, your calls will remind them that you are thinking of them.
  • Give Advice: If your friend is in need of career guidance or advice for a problem that they’re facing, offer your best advice. This will serve as a reminder that you believe in them and will help get your friend back on track.
  • Take Care of Daily Chores: Offer to assist with everyday chores such as cleaning, grocery shopping or taking care of their pet. This small gesture will help them feel less overwhelmed and give them one fewer task to worry about.
  • Bring Food: Preparing meals or bringing your friend restaurant takeout can help your friend stay nourished during a difficult period. No one can think clearly on an empty stomach.

These are just a few ideas to help you to your friend. When someone you care about is going through a tough time, even the smallest gesture of kindness can make a huge difference.

4. Reaching Out for Professional Help

Sometimes when you feel overwhelmed, you need someone else to help you out. Professional help can do wonders for your mental wellbeing, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

The first step to ask for help is to decide what kind of professional you want to talk to. Your form primary care doctor may be the first person you want to approach, as they can refer you to a specialist if needed. In general, there are three categories:

  • Psychiatrists – medical doctors specializing in mental disorders, who can prescribe medication if needed.
  • Psychologists – mental health professionals who treat people using psychological assessments, talk therapy and behavior modification.
  • Counselors – professionals trained in guiding people through psychological issues and everyday struggles to help them live a more balanced life.

Do your research before reaching out to any of the above professionals. Check their past experience, academic qualifications, and therapies they use. Make sure to look for one that specializes in the particular issue you have. Once you have done your research and felt confident about a particular professional, book an appointment and start your journey to recovery.

Reaching out to a loved one is often difficult, but the rewards of supporting them through a challenging period can be enormous. Not only can taking the time to be there for someone help them feel less isolated and hopeless, but it can also strengthen your bond and make your relationship even stronger. By showing you care, you can be a part of the solution that leads to a better quality of life for your friend or family member.

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