5 Ways to Provide Mental Health Support to a Loved One
Watching somebody that you love and care about suffer from a mental health problem can be difficult. The good news is that you don’t need to be an expert in providing support to your friends and family while they’re struggling.
Small, considerate actions every day can be more than enough to make a big difference. If showing thoughtfulness is the highest priority in any gesture you make toward your loved ones; then you’re already on the right path.
If you’re unsure where to start, then don’t worry. Here is a handy guide to get you started. We’ve listed 5 ways to provide mental health support to a loved one, and added some useful advice for implementing them in your life.
State your support
Your words will have a significant impact on your friends and family, and saying that you care and want to help could be precisely what your loved ones need to hear. Loneliness is isolating when you’re facing a mental health problem, so having daily reminders that people are thinking about you and care for your wellbeing can be key in steady recovery.
Stating your support needs to be regular to seem genuine and be beneficial, but it could be as simple as sending a text or offering a phone call. Set an alarm to text your loved one if you suppose for a second that you might forget!
Ask how you can help
Your loved one likely doesn’t expect you to know what they need, and they might not fully understand what they need for themselves. Take small steps, and ask your friend or family member what you could do to make them feel just a little better. Their requests may be as simple as wanting some chocolate brought to their door, or they may decide they would like your company on a walk to get some fresh air!
Everybody needs support in different ways and at different times, so don’t be discouraged if there isn’t anything that you can do straight away. Offer practical help, and your loved one will remember that they can ask you for anything if they need.
Don’t act differently
While it’s natural that you’ll be more considerate toward a friend or family member that you know is struggling, don’t treat them differently all the time! Your loved one won’t want to discuss their mental health issues at every waking moment of every day, and a severe change in behaviour from you could be interpreted as pity.
Keep talking about the topics that you’d usually discuss, as a mutual hobby! If you’ve been on holiday with this person, try and recount some of the experiences you faced together. A change in the topic could be a handy distraction for your loved one, and give them an hour or so of no-pressure conversation without fixating on their emotions.
Show trust and respect
Respecting boundaries is one of the most important things to do when supporting a loved one with mental health struggles. If you are forceful in suggestions of activities to do or advice to overcome illness, your friend or family member will likely withdraw and stop confiding in you.
Trust your loved one and the boundaries they set, and carefully listen to the way they’re responding to you.
Look after yourself
Making an effort to ensure your mood is steady is incredibly important, or you aren’t in the right place to offer support to anybody in need. Don’t take on more than you can handle when it comes to looking after your loved ones, and share your caring role with others where possible!
Keep up to date with news that could educate you on the importance of mental health, but allow yourself time to switch off and enjoy some independence.
If you’re a carer for a loved one that needs to visit the hospital, EMA Patient Transport offers a secure patient transport service where you’d be supported. Book now if you require!