Mental Health Awareness

How to be supportive to someone who suffers from mental health problems?

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.”

-Glenn Close

Hearing from a loved one or a friend that they are suffering from a mental health issue can be overwhelming and confusing. Various questions can arise regarding how you can help them. Here are a couple of helpful tips that can be used when comforting someone suffering from mental health issues. 

  1. Do not be intrusive. 

When comforting an individual with a mental health issue, it is crucial to not be intrusive, but to instead let the person know respectfully that you are there for them and that they can approach you any time. By acting extremely intrusive, the affected individual may feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed by sharing their feelings with you. Let them open up to you at their own pace.  Moreover, it is significant to understand that mental health problems can be long-lasting, therefore, one has to develop patience and understanding when dealing with the affected individual. 

  1. Have a positive attitude. 

To be supportive, one has to have a positive attitude and an open mind. At times, people share their issues not because they want loads of advice, but because they just want to be listened to for a moment. In such times, it is never okay to phrases such as: 

  • It is all in your mind.
  • It will pass, it’s just your bad time. 
  • Your life is perfect, why are you unhappy?
  • Everyone had bad days, it’ll be fine.

Such phrases are insensitive and dismissive to someone who needs genuine support and understanding. They can affect the individual negatively to the point where they might stop confiding in you. Be encouraging and help them feel less lonely. Help set realistic goals that the individual can achieve because at times truly healing can take time. 

  1. Recognize the signs

If your gut feelings indicate that the affected individual needs to seek professional help, then encourage them to take that step and reassure them that things will work out for the best. If they refuse, stay patient and be an attentive listener to their issues. Never makes them feel like they are alone, providing emotional support is crucial. In order to cope with the worst-case scenarios, it is always a safe idea to create an emergency plan.

However, keep in mind that each and every individual is different and they have different coping mechanisms. With that in mind, these are just basic tips on how one can be supportive to someone affected by mental illness.

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