It is hard to see someone you love having a tough time. Mental health is very important and when someone you know is having a difficult time, it can be impactful in many ways. Sometimes, a person experiencing a mental health problem will speak to friends and family before they speak to a health professional, so the support you offer might be really valuable. It can be challenging to know what to do or what to say if you are worried about someone. It might even feel awkward or uncomfortable at times, and that is totally normal. Simply showing how much you care can make a big difference. Below are a few tips to help support a loved one who is struggling with mental health.
- Listen: Often times, people who are struggling with mental health feel alone and unheard. Sometimes people who are having a hard time might just need someone to listen to them. Active and reflexive listening is a great tool to use with someone who is having a hard time. Consider repeating what they have said back to them and asking open ended questions. Most importantly, try to listen with minimal judgement. You do not have to agree with everything they are saying but if they feel judged, they are less likely to reach out for future support.
- Let them share as little or as much as they want: Try not to force conversation or pressure them into telling you more if they do not want to. Let the person go at a pace that feels good for them. You might let them know that you are worried about them and want to be there to support them as best as you can. This will likely foster an environment where they feel comfortable opening up to you.
- Practice patience and understanding: Recovery from mental health can take time. It is important to try to be patient and understanding as best as you can. It is suggested that you avoid minimizing struggles by saying things such as “ it is not that bad!” or “snap out of it!”. Instead, let the person know you are there for them and will try to support them as best as you can.
- Offer practical support: It might be a good idea to offer to help with practical tasks such as cleaning, running errands or cooking. These tasks might feel overwhelming for someone who is struggling with mental health, and your help can provide a big amount of relief.
- Take care of yourself: Supporting someone who is struggling with their mental health can be taxing in many ways. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and have good boundaries with what you can do and what you cannot do.
- Encourage them to seek professional help: There is only so much you can do if your loved one is struggling with their mental health. Encouraging them to see a mental health professional can provide them with needed treatment and interventions to get better. Suggesting someone see a mental health professional may be a sensitive topic for some people. It might be helpful to normalize going to therapy or asking for help. Some people may been ashamed or embarrassed about seeking help for mental health issues. Let the person know seeking help is normal and common, and that it is a sign of strength to ask for help. It might feel supportive to help the person find a counselor, program, doctor, or psychiatrist that is a good fit for them.
At Mountain Vista Psychology, we have a variety of psychologists, counselors, and resources to support your loved ones on their mental health journey. Reach out today to set up a phone consultation or appointment today!
Dr. Steffanie Stecker a licensed psychologist and the owner and clinical director of Mountain Vista Psychology, PLLC.
In addition, she is a board certified neurotherapist (BCN E5669) and board certified in QEEG (QEEG-D). Less than 100 people world wide are board certified in QEEG, which indicates competency in reading QEEGs and choosing neurofeedback protocols. Dr. Stecker is passionate about brain based effective therapy and creating a safe relationship for her clients to create change. She loves what she gets to do each day!