If you know someone struggling with their mental health, here are some things you can do to support them:
Letting someone know you are worried is a good way to open up a conversation – it shows you care about the individual, that you have time for them, and that they can be open and honest with you. Reassure them that you are there whenever they need to talk. But remember to approach this with sensitivity, and don’t assume they will be willing to talk. It can take some people a long time to reach a place where they can talk openly about their feelings.
Really listen to what they are saying. Ask open questions and be patient, allow enough time for them to reply (in as much detail as they’re comfortable to give). Don’t push for information that they aren’t willing to offer up. Chances are, you won’t know the full story, but just being there can be a great help. Often, people don’t want advice or answers they just want someone to listen and to be heard. Reassure them that it’s ok to feel this way, it’s normal – it’s ok to not be ok!
If they are unsure whether to get professional help or not, gently explore potential places of support and how to access mental health services. Encourage them to visit their GP, but don’t force anything. Find out what works for them. Try showing your support by offering to attend any appointments with them (waiting outside the surgery). Or even just going for a walk or watching a film together.
There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution - a different approach is required with everyone. Always be sensitive, supportive, and show them how much you care. As lockdown eases and we can meet up more freely, keep an eye out for absent friends, be sure to reach out and provide your friend(s) with unconditional emotional support.
Whether you're concerned about yourself or a loved one, here are some mental health charities, organisations and support groups that can offer expert advice: