While not everyone deals with a mental health issue themselves, we certainly all have someone in our lives who does. Whether a friend, parent, spouse or child - seeing someone you love struggle with mental illness is so difficult! The feeling of being helpless can be tourtourous and many times you just don't know what to say or do! Everyone is different and has different needs but generally speaking there are some do's and don'ts when reaching out to a loved one who is struggling. As we wrap up Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to provide a few tips I have learned below!
Listen. One of the best things you can do, for anyone really, is just listen. If someone is opening up to you, they may not necessarily want advice but rather someone to vent to. Ask questions, validate their feelings and maintain eye contact - these are all positive ways to show you are truly listening and care!
Learn about their Mental Illness. Whether its depression, anxiety, PTSD or something else - educate yourself on their specific condition in order to be a well informed friend! Many times the burden of explaining a condition rests on the person struggling - take this weight off and show them you have put effort into understanding!
Stay in touch. Send a friendly text checking in on them or a call once a week - whatever you think is best! Even if they don't respond right away, they will know that you are there to support them through this time.
Be Patient. Everyone gets through difficult times at different speeds. Being a patient and consistent friend will help them along the process!
Locate Resources. If someone is depressed or in an anxious state, researching therapist may be the last thing they feel like doing. If they are open to it, help them find resources to get through this time!
Take care of yourself. Helping a loved one through a mental illness can take a toll on the caregiver as well! Remember to practice self care and set boundaries where needed!
*If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.