The public awareness of mental health has increased over the past few years but it could be suggested that there is still confusion and stigma around what to do for ourselves and how to get help. Then there are the people around us who are close who know and can see we are struggling but have a sense of helplessness and confusion about what to do. If only mental health were as simple as repairing a visible fracture or suturing up a wound. Its complexities run as unique as we are as individuals but there is hope. There are some really simple things that can be done to support someone you know who is struggling with their mental health and the key is to keep it simple and not over complicate your intervention.

Acknowledge

Acknowledge that you can see they are struggling

Listen

Listen with empathy and try to gain some understanding of their world, what its like to be in their shoes, how they feel and what thoughts are running through their mind. Try not to fix their world , just be with them in it and clarify to them what you are hearing. If they are not ready to talk then don’t force them to, let them know that when they are ready you will be there to listen.

Stand

Stand beside them and let them know that you will help them find the right support they need, that they are not alone. Help them find support. Some good places to start for information are the charity Mind and their GP.

No Fixing

Don’t try to change or fix their behaviour no matter how hard it is to experience as someone who cares deeply for them, encourage them to seek professional help from their GP.

Encourage

Encourage them to do relaxing, mindful and social activities but also respect their choice if they cant engage.

Look after your self

This is really important. Try to maintain your own levels of physical and mental energy by getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising. Get your own social support from others who can encourage you. Engage in mindful activities. There are also some really helpful pieces of information on the Mind website for you too.

Its important to remember that because we are all human and have these unique and complex brains that we all need to find ways to maintain our mental well-being and resilience to stress. Sometimes breakdowns come before breakthroughs and struggles with our mental health should not be seen as failure. Reaching breaking point is like saying- its all too much , i need to re evaluate , this is not a  sustainable way to be, I matter, how can life feel better and different from what i’m struggling with now!

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