How to support those with mental health issues

There may come a time when a friend, family member, employee, or associate requires your help for a mental health issue or emergency.

You may be more than happy to help, but you may also struggle to know how to help in a way that assists with their immediate needs.

Knowledge is power, and the more you learn about mental health, the better the position you may be in to help those facing mental health battles. Consider doing the following things to support those closest to you.

Attend a training course

You don’t have to be in a professional health role to attend suicide prevention training. In fact, anyone can benefit from suicide awareness training that focuses on supporting those at risk.

You might be a teacher that manages youth or a sports coach wanting to pick up on suicide risk signs in your players. You may even be a worried parent who wants to make sure your children can tell you anything.

Suicide awareness and prevention courses teach you both theoretical and practical skills to recognise warning signs and behaviours. Such a course may just help you to save someone’s life.

Listen

If someone approaches you in their time of need, it’s not always easy to know what you’re supposed to do, and it may be more beneficial for you to just listen. They may not need you to offer solutions or even give them a hug. They may just need to get what they are feeling off their chest and to feel valid at that moment.

Try your best not to interrupt, but ask questions if you require clarification. The more listening you do, the better your position in deciding what to do next.

Suggest support services

Even if you have undergone suicide prevention training through an organisation like Training For Life, that doesn’t mean you are in the best position to offer the mental health support someone needs. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is encourage them to seek professional help.

You may be able to provide phone numbers and even attend appointments with them if it makes them more comfortable.

Check in with them

While being a listening ear is sometimes all someone needs to feel better, you can also become an ongoing source of support. Check in with the person experiencing a mental health problem like depression so that they know you are always there for them.  

Make contact with them regularly to see how they are feeling. Just knowing someone cares can make a world of difference.

Depending on the relationship you have with them, you may also like to invite them to activities like yoga, offer assistance with errands, and make plans with them, so they’ve got something positive to focus on.

Call emergency services

Your support, guidance, and listening ear can be of great value to anyone going through a tough time. However, it’s essential to know your limits.

If someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies, don’t delay in seeking emergency help. The faster you act, the safer your friend or family member may be.  

You may not naturally know what to do to help someone with mental health challenges, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn. By being able to identify the signs and be a source of support, you may be able to help someone through one of the most challenging times of their life.  

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