Starting the conversation about mental health can feel overwhelming; but it doesn’t have to be. Someone struggling may need the smallest gesture to pull them through. You have the tools to save someone’s life, even if you don’t realise it. Here are a few things that you can do to help someone in your life.
- Ask someone how they’re doing. Simple right? If you have an inkling something isn’t right, really ask them if they’re ok, like you mean it. Like you’re not hoping and wishing for a simple “I’m fine.”
- Ring or message someone you haven’t heard from for awhile. It could mean they’re struggling and have isolated themselves. Knowing that someone is thinking of them could be what starts them talking.
- Listen. So they’ve started talking to you, what do you do now? Listen attentively. Repeat back key phrases and sum up what they’ve told you in your own words. It will show that you’ve heard and understood.
- Share. Maybe you or someone else in your life has gone through a difficult time? Share that experience so they feel less alone.
- What can you do to help practically? Maybe they want someone to go with them to a doctors appointment. Maybe they want help cleaning their place or help making a meal.
- You don’t need to fix them. Someone feeling like they’re in a desperate place doesn’t need to be told to “Take a bath.” “Go for a run.” or “Drink some camomile tea.” We as human beings want to fix problems and sometimes we can’t fix them completely. If you’re not a medical professional then being there, talking to them and listening are the best things you can do.
It can also be draining to be there for someone struggling, so it’s important to look after yourself so you can be there for them. If you’re extremely worried about someone, it’s important you encourage them to find help. You can encourage them to ring their mental health team if they have one, make a doctor’s appointment, or go to A&E. There are also a number of helplines they can ring if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Samaritans: 116 123
Mind Charity: 0300 123 3393
Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774
CALMzone: 0800 58 58 58
charitynopanic: 0844 967 4848
CharitySANE: 0300 304 7000
Papyrus: 0800 068 4141
Rethink: 0300 5000 927