3 Ways You Can Support Someone With A Mental Health Issue
Lots of people have never had to deal with a mental health issue for themselves or with a family member or friend. While it might seem scary or uncomfortable, there are simple things that friends can do to support someone who is dealing with a mental health issue.
The first thing is to be purposeful about paying attention to how those in our lives are doing. It is easy to overlook someone dealing with a mental health issue, but by taking the time to be mindful of those around us we can usually see who is having a hard time.
Listen And Offer Support
Once we know someone is struggling with a mental health issue, one of the most helpful things to do is offer to be there to listen and offer support. It is perfectly alright to not be an expert in mental health diagnosis — just listen without judgment and offer to provide any supports possible. There are resources available to help get the person connected to services if they have not already sought these out.
Help In A Crisis
Another piece of the puzzle is to be available to assist if the person goes into crisis. When a person is in a mental health crisis, including a suicidal episode, mental health professionals need assistance from people in the person's life.
If willing, you might be called upon to stay in closer contact with the person, encourage them to take any prescribed medication, show up for scheduled appointments, and possibly assist with restricting access to lethal means of suicide (like helping with holding large amounts of medications) until the crisis has passed. If the person goes into crisis and is not already in services, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7/365 at 1.800.273.8255.
Be assured, if you have a friend struggling with a mental health issue, your friendship can be a huge asset in helping them navigate those waters and there is a system of care standing at the ready to provide them the help they need.
(Becky Stoll is the vice president of crisis & disaster management of the mental health and substance abuse service center Centerstone.)