Talking about mental health
If you are worried about someone it can be difficult to know what to do. When you are aware there is an issue, it is important not to wait. Waiting and hoping they will come to you for help might lose valuable time in getting them support.
Talking to someone is often the first step to take when you know they are going through a hard time. This way you can find out what is troubling them and what you can do to help.
How can you help?
There are a number of ways you can help a friend, relative or colleague who has a mental health problem:
If it is a family member or close friend you are concerned about, they might not want to talk to you. Try not to take this personally: talking to someone you love can be difficult as they might be worried they are hurting you. It is important to keep being open and honest and telling them that you care. It may also be helpful to give them information of organisations or people they can reach out to.
- Listen without making judgements and concentrate on their needs in that moment.
- Ask them what would help them.
- Reassure and signpost to practical information or resources.
- Avoid confrontation.
- Ask if there is someone they would like you to contact.
- Encourage them to seek appropriate professional help.
- If they have hurt themselves, make sure they get the first aid they need.
If someone tells you they are feeling suicidal or can’t go on, or if you suspect they are thinking of taking their own life, it is very important to encourage them to get help. You should contact a GP
You can ask how they are feeling and let them know that you are available to listen. Talking can be a great help to someone who is feeling suicidal, but it may be distressing for you. It is important for you to talk to someone about your own feelings as well.
There are a number of specialist services that provide various treatments, including counselling and other talking treatments.
HURT (HAVE YOUR TOMORROWS) Community mental health team (CMHT) Aware defeat depression, Primary Care Liaison Service
What emotional support can I offer?
If someone lets you know that they are experiencing difficult thoughts and feelings, it’s common to feel like you don’t know what to do or say – but you don’t need any special training to show someone you care about them. Often just being there for someone and doing small things can be really valuable. For example:
- Listen. Simply giving someone space to talk, and listening to how they’re feeling, can be really helpful in itself. If they’re finding it difficult, let them know that you’re there when they are ready.
- Offer reassurance. Seeking help can feel lonely, and sometimes scary. You can reassure someone by letting them know that they are not alone, and that you will be there to help.
- Stay calm. Even though it might be upsetting to hear that someone you care about is distressed, try to stay calm. This will help your friend or family member feel calmer too, and show them that they can talk to you openly without upsetting you.
- Be patient. You might want to know more details about their thoughts and feelings, or want them to get help immediately. But it’s important to let them set the pace for seeking support themselves.
Why does being active matter?
We all know that being physically active is good for our bodies. But our physical health and mental health are closely linked – so physical activity can be very beneficial for our mental health and wellbeing too.
Lots of us don’t get enough exercise to stay healthy, but physical activity is particularly important if you have a mental health problem. This is because people with mental health problems are more likely to:
- have a poor diet
- smoke or drink too much alcohol
- be overweight or obese (this can be a side effect of taking medication
So if you have a mental health problem, the health benefits of becoming more physically active are even more significant.