How to Help Your Friend with a Mental Health Problem

In our world today, the diseases of mental health plague us more than ever. You will never know that it already hit you. People who are seemingly strong and happy like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade ended their life because of this issues.

 

So if our family or friends experience such hardship, what can we do to help?

 

Understanding Mental Health Diseases and Spotting It.

 

First, we have to understand that a mental health disease is not a made-up disease. The worst thing you can say is that “Just be Happy! It’s all in the mind.”

 

You can’t say to a person suffering the flu to “Just be happy. It’s all in the mind.” Like any disease, it’s not that they can’t just be happy; it’s just that something is not working properly inside their body.

 

Knowing if someone has a mental health disease is hard and diagnosis is better left to professionals. But to give you an idea, most mental health problems have these symptoms:

 
  • Detachment
  • Withdrawal
  • Sadness
  • Mood Swings
  • Substance Abuse
 

If you have a family member or friend showing these behaviors, better check on them. But the problem is, how can we approach them properly?

 

Ask and Follow Leads

 
Ask and Follow Leads How to Help Your Friend with a Mental Health Problem

Image Credit: iStock

 

For most, it is hard to open up your problems to other people. It’s uncomfortable and, not to mention, the judgment they might receive.

 

So some people might resort to giving out hints instead of directly saying they have issues. Hints such as “I find it too hard to live like this every day.” Or “I’m so stressed out.” They may say this jokingly but be sensitive to what it may really mean. If you think these are hints, why not follow up and ask?

 

Ask “I felt you were so stressed a few days ago. How are you doing lately?” You may either get answers leading to a deeper problem or s/he just might be really fine. The important thing is you followed through and asked.

 

Listen Without Judgment

 
Listen Without Judgment How to Help Your Friend with a Mental Health Problem

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If your friend finally opened up, just listen. Don’t deviate away from what s/he is saying. Don’t distract him/her with other subjects. Again, just listen to what s/he has to say.

 

Giving him/her the moment to talk and be heard is already a big step in helping them. It really lessens the burden if you can let out your emotions. And by listening intently, you’re letting him/her do just that.

 

You don’t need to give advice. Heck, it’s better to refrain from giving advice at all because some statements might be offensive. If you really need to, check out these guidelines from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

 

WHAT HELPS

WHAT HURTS

I know you have a real illness and that’s what causes these thoughts and feelings.

It’s all in your head.

I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.

We all go through times like this.

You are important to me. Your life is important to me.

You have so much to live for– why do you want to die?

Tell me what I can do now to help you.

What do you want me to do?

I can’t do anything about your situation.

You might not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.

Just snap out of it.

Look on the bright side.

You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.

You’ll be fine. Stop worrying.

Talk to me. I’m listening.

Here’s my advice…

 

Ask Them How You Can Help and Give Reassurance

Ask Them How You Can Help and Give Reassurance How to Help Your Friend with a Mental Health Problem

Image Credit: iStock

 

After hearing their story, ask them an open-ended “What Can I Do to Help?” Give them the assurance that you are here for him/her.

 

With this condition, they tend to detach themselves from their family and friends. Sincerely giving your assurance that you are in fact there for them is like light amidst the darkness they are feeling.

 

To know that someone is actually on your side, even just one person is impactful enough to push you through the challenges of life.

 

Be Patient. Don’t Force Them Far Outside Their Comfort Zone

 
Be Patient. Dont Force Them Far Outside Their Comfort Zone How to Help Your Friend with a Mental Health Problem

Image Credit: iStock

 

What if your loved one is not yet ready to tell his/her story or s/he might not be ready to tell all the details about what they’re feeling?

 

Please be patient. This is a disease that takes time to cure. Even though you have good intentions to extract as much information as possible, it’s best not to force them outside their comfort zone. Let them pace themselves.

 

(Except if they have suicidal thoughts already. You need to bring them immediately to the hospital to get professional help.)

 

Continue to Keep Social Contact

 
Continue to Keep Social Contact How to Help Your Friend with a Mental Health Problem

Image Credit: Shutterstock

 

It doesn’t end in one talk. Make it a point to continue to be in contact. Your friend might be socializing less, but it’s not bad to invite them once in a while. At the very least, you might find a time where s/he actually agrees to hang out. And in his/her part, the feeling that “You aren’t forgotten or I’m still in the loop of things.”, will certainly help.

 

To add, make things as normal as possible. The worst thing you can do is to overly be sensitive and treat your friend like a terminal human being. So, just be a friend and hang out like you would normally do.

 

Educate Yourself

 

Every mental health disease is different. Try researching on your friend’s condition. By knowing more about it, you can better help him/her in his/her time of need.

 

Check on Yourself. Don’t Give Up. It’s All Worth It.

 

With all this stressful thinking, check up on yourself. Helping your friend be better is not an easy task. You also need some guidance and support. Consider joining a group with a similar case. Some communities even have mental health teams and collaborations.

 

Lastly, your love and actions are impacting your prized-one for sure. It may not be apparent especially in the times they are resisting. So don’t give up. It is making a difference. In the end, it is all worth it.

Leandro Eclipse

Leandro Eclipse is an entrepreneur who loves to travel. He believes in garnering multiple Location-Independent Sources of Income. Because if you are going to work anyway, might as well do it while exploring the world. Self-proclaimed foodie and tech geek. Follow him on Twitter @MikoTheEclipse.

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