How do you help someone else?
When you suspect that someone you care about is struggling with mental health but aren’t sure:
Look for common signs: Avoiding and canceling plans, consistently low energy and moods, excessively distracting themselves by partying, eating, drinking, shopping more than usual
Do your homework: Look up online resources on mental health or self-help books, or consult a professional
When you’re ready to help them or they reach out to you:
- Get them talking: Ask how they’re doing and if something is bothering them, showing concern without making it a big deal. Listen deeply and empathize with their situation and emotions (eg. that sounds painful, sorry its so hard).
Try to avoid giving them advice on how to fix their problems, even though you mean well and want to help - they first need to feel heard and understood
- Whether or not they are open to talking, keep checking in regularly and make yourself available, so that they feel seen and loved, and less isolated
- If they’re open to getting help, you can help them identify resources such as therapists or support groups in their area, or share information you’ve researched on mental health.
- Try to do this in a no pressure, non-judgmental way, or else it might backfire and they may shut you out or refuse to move forward.
- Ask them directly what might help them: To have distractions and to just talk about normal stuff? To discuss how they’re feeling? Or would they like just having someone around without talking?
When you’ve tried everything and it's not working:
Sometimes, the best but hardest way to help someone is to stop trying to help or rescue them. They may not be ready to acknowledge their condition or take action. The most loving thing to do may be to accept them where they are, adjust your expectations from them, and avoid blaming or accusing them.
Help yourself: Its incredibly challenging when someone you love is struggling mentally, and it may affect your own mental health. Seeking help for yourself can also make them more willing to doing the same.