How Do I Help?
When someone you care about has a mental health disorder, it can be hard enough for the person in the situation to even contemplate what it means or how to cope/live with it let alone someone who is not living with any disorder themselves. Therefore, a person who cares/loves someone who is living with a mental health disorder, first and foremost needs to remember that they can only do so much.
Depending on your relationship with the person sets the do’s and don’ts for what you can do and say. For instance, if you are just a distant friend it can be hard because sometimes you can feel like you’re walking on eggshells because you may feel like you don’t have the right to ask or do certain things which as a parent or partner it can seem easier for them because of the closeness of their relationship.
So we have created a six tips for friends, partners and family members. Some of what we suggest may not work for everyone but you can choose what’s best for you and the person you care for.
I hope these tips help they’re kind of more general if anything but sometimes thinking about them and following them can help. Also, credit to Mind Charity because having a look at their website helped me to understand a little more and just a quick reminder I’m not a professional this is based on research and my own personal views. I hope it helps though!
FOR A FRIEND
1. Look after your own wellbeing.
If your wellbeing isn’t good then you aren’t in the right frame of mind to be helping someone else, you can still try and for some people, it will work. However, speaking from a personal perspective if I don’t have the right mindset trying to help someone else can make it harder because where I’m not being positive I can sometimes end up not thinking logically and may be negative.
Sometimes just knowing you have someone to talk to can help because you know if you need to rant or cry or anything you have someone there to listen. Keeping things in can end abruptly so having someone to talk to can help people feel like they aren’t alone which for anyone is a great thing.
3. Celebrate achievements.
On a day to day, some people who have a mental health disorder can feel like average life is a mission so celebrating things that they’ve done whether it be little like passing an exam or stopping themselves from self-harming is an amazing thing to do. This is because it shows you notice and value them as a friend and gives them a sense of achievement which personally, I think everyone should do. Be supportive regardless of whether your friend has a mental health disorder or not little things like saying ‘I’m so proud of you’, ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Well Done’ can make someone's day.
4. Seek Help.
By this I don’t mean going to get them help; however, if you feel that is necessary to ensure they are ok to do whatever's best for your friend and you. By seeking help I meant if you don’t actually get what their mental health disorder is and what it can do take some time to gain knowledge and understand looking at websites such as Mind and NHS can really help you to actually understand what the disorder is. Having knowledge is a power tool, some understanding, in my opinion, is better than none, it gives you something to think about when your friend is acting a certain way or doing something and can help you to come up with a way to help them if you can or they ask for advice.
5. Don’t treat them differently.
The moment people find out friends can sometimes start to act differently and sometimes will act like they have to walk on eggshells. But, this is sometimes far from the truth when you find out you have a mental health disorder it can feel really daunting and overwhelming. The best thing is to act like nothing changed. The fact is they are still the same person you know and love. In the words of James Bay, ‘you be you and I’ll be me’. (However, please take into consideration the situation that they are in, you don’t have to act different but there may be certain things that change slightly.)
6. Don’t Pressure.
The last thing someone needs is to feel like their friend is pressuring them to open up and talk or make them feel like they’re their doctor or parents. I guess this tip is more of a general thing compared to just specifically people who have a mental health disorder/s. However, this will work wonders by taking this into consideration. If you know that you have the support from someone you need and that they will sit and listen and just overall be there and won't pressure you that’s just pure GOLD!
FOR A PARENT