It can be hard to know what to do to if a friend or family member is struggling with their mental health. Here are six tips to help you, help them.
Send a text
It might be a small gesture but sending someone a text to let them know you’re thinking of them can really help. Don’t expect a text back, but just reaching out can let somebody know that you’re thinking about them and that you love them.
Make a care package
Depending on your friend’s circumstances, it might be a good idea to deliver a simple care package. Someone who is dealing with bereavement or who has lost their job might forget about the practical things in life, like toothpaste or washing up liquid or even milk. Getting a few things together and dropping them around might be a great way to start a conversation. Be sensitive to your friend, however. Pride can be hurt so don’t go over the top.
Ask the right questions
If you pop over, or just happen to have them on the phone it’s always useful to ask the right question. Chloe Ward is a Technician at Smart TMS, the UK’s leading mental health clinic specialising in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, tell us, “Are you okay?” is a great opener, adding, “Simple but effective. It may be that no one has asked that simple question for a while and if you follow this up with ‘is there anything I can do to help?’, they may feel safe enough to begin the conversation”
Don’t try and fix them
This can be really tough because you might feel like you’ve got the answer, but it’s always best to let people work out their own answers that will work with their circumstances. Also, how often do people really take advice? Especially when it isn’t asked for… never. So ask your friend what they think could help them out and explore their ideas with them. It can be tough but try not to judge, just listen.
If your friend starts to talk, let them speak. Don’t interrupt in the first few minutes. If you’re confused about the timeline or the people involved, circle back round to it in your repeat back.
Speak to a stranger
Let your friend know that they can call the Samaritans or Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline. It might seem like an obvious idea, but sometimes we need to hear an idea to act on it.
Speaking to a stranger or someone on the end of a phone, who isn’t connected to them in any way can be a way in which your friend might feel more comfortable sharing their problems with. Samaritan’s phone number is: 116 123 or Switchboard is: 0330 330 0630.
The editor and chief of THEGAYUK. All in a previous life wrote and produced songs on multi-platinum records.