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  • Emma Levinson

How to help someone struggling

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Knowing how to help a loved one who is struggling with their mental health is hard to navigate. You can feel you are either driving them mad by asking how they are or feel like you are abandoning them

Here are a few little tips and ways you can support someone

  • If you notice a change in your friend confront them and say you have noticed a change in their behaviour / emotions / or feelings – sometimes the person will not even realise until it is too late. In doing this ensure you choose the right place where you both feel comfortable and can talk freely.

  • Offer to go with to doctors’ appointments – when someone is depressed it is very hard for them to retain and process information.

  • Ask how you can help when they are experiencing a panic attack – whether it is just a hug, helping with breathing techniques or taking them out of the situation, or equally they may want to be left alone to ride it out.

  • Learn and read about symptoms that the person is getting anxious or struggling, this will help you understand what is going on and what to do without asking.

  • Help them understand that they are not abnormal and it could happen to anyone

  • Understand that even the simplest of situations can be traumatic for the person suffering.

  • Let them know you are there is there even if just a text to say ‘hello’ or just a kiss. It is amazing how quickly people suffering can feel no-one likes them, cares anymore or that they are a burden.

  • Little notes from close friends and friends even if you have not been in touch for many years – again just let the person know you are thinking of them.

  • Photographs to remind them of the good times to remind them of how things were and still can be.

  • Offer to take them for a walk – fresh air makes the world of difference, but for a person struggling taking themselves out on their own can be impossible.

  • Take them for a drive – just to show them life going on. The world of someone suffering can become very small and isolating, so just to see life helps.

  • Allow them to talk openly about how they are feeling with no judgment, knowing they are being heard.

  • Act normally and talk about everything going on in your life. This distract from the thoughts going round in their head

  • People understanding what they can or cant do, without feeling excluded.

  • Make sure they know you are there

  • If you see them you can help by making decisions and plans so they do not need to worry about that as well.

  • Stick to plans that have been made. In order for the person to be able to do anything they need to plan it all to the smallest detail, so changing or cancelling plans can be more harmful to them than it would be to anyone else

  • Recognise what could trigger anxiety and taking them out of potentially stressful situations. By learning about the person's triggers it enables you to make them feel safe in going out and doing things as they will know they can trust you.

  • Offer to visit at them home or in hospital. Hospitals can be daunting places to, but, remember they are even more scary and isolating for the person going through it. They are not there out of choice and cannot leave.

  • Give them things to do. Colouring books, journals, anything crafty, magazine, little cards. Anything to give them something to do or take their minds what they are going through.

  • Most important just asking how they are.

REMEMBER WHATEVER HAPPENS the person still cares for you but the illness prevents them from doing and being the same person they were, but underneath the struggle they are still the same.

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