Recently, the conversation came up about how to support a family friend who was dealing with depression and anxiety. How can we support each other? What can we do to support our loved ones with mental health issues? Understanding that every case is different and may require a different level of intervention, here are some things you can do to support your loved one who is dealing with mental health issues.
Listen with Compassion – Take the time to listen to your friend/relative. Simply having someone showing they care and understand can be helpful to the person.
Stay in Touch – Check in with your friend/relative from time to time. Checking in illustrates that you are still there for them no matter what they are going through.
Be Patient – Your friend/relative may have a difficult time getting out of their home or participating in social outings, don’t stop inviting them, rather be patient with them. Continue to invite them to participate and encourage their presence but do not pressure them.
Support – Offer your support in any way you can. When they are ready, help them find a professional in the area that they can talk to and even offer to go with them, if they’ve not already done so.
Do Not Judge – Stay away from saying things like “get over it” or “try harder.” People with mental health issues are trying to move forward and can find a great deal of difficulty in this. When people tell them to “just get over it” or “try harder” it devalues the work they have done and are doing.
Share – Share your experiences with mental health issues (if you have any) and what worked for you or someone you know. This shows the person they are not alone. But, be careful not to assume that your story is the same as theirs. Every story is different.
Educate Yourself – Take the time to learn about their diagnosis. If they are not ready to open up to you about their symptoms, there are articles online you can read that may help you get an idea of what the person is going through.
Take Care of You – The old adage of “before you assist others, always put your oxygen mask on first,” is true. Make sure you are also taking care of yourself and your own mental health while caring for your friend/relative.