Going through a mental health crisis can be a terrifying and lonely experience. A trusted person’s comfort and presence in the days and weeks following can not only boost someone’s mood, but also play a vital role in their long term recovery. However, support can be provided at any point in an individual’s mental health journey.

If you are worried that someone you know may have a mental health condition

When opening up a conversation with someone that you are worried about, remember to:

  1. Gently let them know that you have noticed some changes and explain why you are concerned. 
  2. Find a suitable time when there are no pressures or interruptions.
  3. Listen and follow at their pace, making sure not to speak too quickly.
  4. Respect their point of view.
  5. Validate what they are experiencing.
  6. Let them know that there are ways to help make them feel better. 
  7. Encourage them to speak to either a family GP, a school counselor, or other health professional. Perhaps even start with a trusted person (e.g. friend or relative) that they may be able to confide in. 
  8. Offer them your assistance (e.g. help to make an appointment for them on their behalf or accompany them during their appointment).
  9. Let them know that you support and care for them.

Despite your support coming from the best of intentions, the individual in question may have a negative response to your concern. It is important to remember that in such cases, letting a loved one know that you are there for them is often the most you can do. It is just as vital to care for your own mental health, so do seek help if you find yourself negatively affected by their response. 

If a loved one is currently struggling with a mental health condition 

The most important aspect of supporting someone who is struggling is being non judgmentally present with them. Having a mental illness can sometimes bring up feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment. By letting someone know that they have your support regardless provides them with a safe space when they are having a rough time. 

Spending time together can also be an invaluable and fun distraction from what may be going on. This could include having a movie night, getting together for a meal or coffee, or even going out if they feel comfortable doing so. 

Providing support after a mental health crisis

Majority of the support provided directly after a mental health crisis is by medical and mental health professionals. This could be in the form of medication, counselling or other treatments. Support from friends and family during this stage is also integral yet often overlooked, and will usually supplement treatment in long term recovery. 

You can show your support in many ways, but some possibilities are listed below.

  • Offering to attend any appointments with them if they feel uncomfortable going alone 
  • Calling or texting to check in 
  • Spending time with them
  • Helping out by cooking meals, or helping to clean around the house
  • Caring for pets that they may not be able to attend to 

How you support an individual is predominantly determined by what both you and your loved one are comfortable with, and is unique to your situation. However, checking in via text or phone call is usually always a good place to start.