Ask how you can help
Everyone will want support at different times and in different ways, so ask how you can help. It might be useful to help keep track of medication, or give support at a doctor’s appointment. If your friend wants to get more exercise, you could do this together, or if your partner is affected by lack of sleep, you could help them get into a regular sleeping pattern.
Phrases like 'cheer up’, ‘I’m sure it’ll pass’ and ‘pull yourself together’ definitely don’t help. Try to be non-judgemental and listen. Someone experiencing a mental health problem often knows best what's helpful for them.
It’s 6:30am. You’ve been lying awake for half an hour – eyes open but you’re not awake. Your alarm goes off “beep beep, beep beep” you peer up at the clock. You look around your room, out of the window. The sky’s blue, the birds are singing the rays of sun are streaming in to your room, you had a great night’s sleep and you have 4 interviews in the sector you have always wanted to work in. Everything seems great………….. but you find yourself agitated. The sun is directly in your eyes, you would love the birds be quite, you wish you had closed the curtains fully, the great sleep was enough for you to not feel tied but you feel mentally exhausted. Speaking to someone new and getting through the interviews seems like too much of a chore. It’s not that you don’t want to go to any of the interviews but you are questioning if you are good enough, if you are going to fail and what you are going to do after this doesn’t work. The sun doesn’t seem so bright anymore……..where to go from here? This is a first hand account from someone who fought depression. No two experiences of mental illnesses are the same. One in four adults experience mental illness and many more of us know and care for people who do. Here’s a couple of tips that may be useful if you know someone with a mental health condition.
Don’t just talk about mental health
Keep in mind that having a mental health problem is just one aspect of your friend or family member's life. Most people don’t want to be defined by their mental health problem, so keep talking about the things you've always talked about together.
Show trust and respect
Trust and respect between you and your friend or family member are very important – they help to rebuild and maintain a sense of self-esteem, which a mental health problem can seriously damage. This can also help you to cope a bit better if you can see your support having a positive impact on the person you care about. Supporting someone else can sometimes be stressful. Making sure that you look after your own wellbeing can mean that you have the energy, time and distance you need to be able to help.