Around 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health issues in their lifetime. While great strides have been made in regards to breaking down the stigma associated with mental health problems and concerns, there is still a long way to go until mental health is on the same level as physical health.
However, the more work is done to break down the barriers and get people to open up about their feelings, the better for everyone. But how do you broach this subject with your loved ones if you think they are suffering in silence?
Have A Plan in Place
Before you bring up the topic of how someone is feeling and whether or not they need help, you must have a plan in place. Take into consideration how you can support them to get the right assistance they need in a way that works for them. Write down a list of resources they can refer to, such as helplines, a psychologist, therapist or even close family and friends who have lived through this also. Be prepared for them to be potentially hostile and angry at you bringing it up or for them to completely shut down if they aren’t ready to discuss this yet.
Avoid making decisions about what should happen for them without their consent. At this stage, you are sharing concerns, not taking control over their medical needs.
Know Your Commitment Abilities
It is only natural to want to help them throughout every step of their recovery. But be realistic about what time and support you can offer beforehand. Everyone has lives they need to lead, jobs, families etc. and overcommitting yourself can lead to feelings of disappointment and resentment if you don’t set clear boundaries upfront.
Ensure they know how you can help and what you expect of them to commit to getting help and following it through if they are serious about overcoming their mental health concerns.
Be Careful of the Language You Use
The words you use and the tone of voice play a massive part in how your offer of help is received. People in mental health crises are already struggling with low self-esteem. Any perceived slight or irritation formed from their interactions with you can put a barrier up and close down the lines of communication.
Try not to blame them or personalise their behaviour. How they talk, think, or act is a product of their condition, not them and categorising it as such won’t help anyone. Try to remain calm and use comforting but absolute language when discussing help and assistance to reinforce the fact that things will be happening and action will be taken.
Step Back When You Need To
Knowing when you need to remove yourself, even temporarily, from what is going on is vital to support your wellbeing. After all, you can not help someone else if you aren’t feeling your best both physically and mentally. Take time to pay attention to your wants and needs and support yourself so you can offer the level of support and guidance you want to without draining yourself by taking on too much.
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*This is a collaborative article