Seeing your loved ones struggling with mental health can be heartbreaking. It’s not easy, but here we have compiled 10 top tips which should help you to be the best support you can be for your loved one who is struggling. Doing your best is all you can ever do.
- Don’t try to diagnose – Although you may believe diagnosing will help, quite often it doesn’t, and you will only push that person away. It’s okay to not understand, no one expects you to, but you don’t have to know everything to be a person they can talk to.
- Leave conversations open-ended – Don’t ask closed questions and root for information. Mental health is so personal to each individual so leave conversations and questions open-ended. That way, the individual can share what they want to share, and it will be a more comfortable experience for them.
- Listen – Sometimes people aren’t talking to you for advice, sometimes they just need someone to listen. The conversations you have could be upsetting sometimes, but try and listen to every word they say. Pay attention to their body language too. Sometimes saying less, and listening more is just what people need.
- Don’t take things personally – Mental health is very complex, so don’t instantly blame yourself like many do when loved ones share that they are struggling. This will make the individual feel guilty, and make you question every decision you’ve ever made. Instead of blaming yourself, ask them if you can do anything to help – doing this allows you to set off on the right foot, and be the best support system you can be.
- Be patient – Allow your loved one to wrap their head around their feelings, they could be confused and feel lonely. If a loved one expresses that they’re struggling, be present and check in on them, reminding them that you’re there if they need you.
- Be a comfort to them – Sometimes just being in their company will help them in ways we may not understand. Although everyone is different, as said above, be present in their life, whether that means dropping them a text or popping round to see them every so often.
- Look out for yourself – You may find some elements of mental health confusing, especially if you haven’t personally struggled. It can be very overwhelming sometimes, and many find themselves feeling hopeless. If there is someone outside the situation who you can speak to, and you trust, don’t be scared to talk to someone else. Besides, if you aren’t looking after your own mental health, then you might struggle even more when coping with loved ones also.
- Don’t second guess their feelings – Allow your loved one to talk freely, and as mentioned before, sometimes less is more. Those struggling with their mental health often find themselves confused with their own emotions. It is important to try and just be there. You don’t need to be the best at advice to be a good support.
- Find out the ways you can help – Sometimes further help is required, which could mean speaking to doctors etc. It is important to recognise the small successes with those tackling their mental health issues head-on. Don’t forget that they’re still the person they were before, treat them how you’d like to be treated, and don’t baby them. Although you may believe this will protect them, it could just come across as patronising.
- Understand that you may not understand – No one expects you to know everything, and no two people struggling will have the same story. Be patient. If you’re close, you may be the wrong person for them to speak to. Sometimes they need an outside person and that’s ok. You can’t always have all the answers, but your support won’t go unnoticed.
If you are struggling:
Samaritans, call: 116 123
MIND, call: 0300 123 3393