Mental illness presents itself in various ways and isn’t always easy to tell when someone is struggling. Although you might not be suffering that doesn’t mean someone close to you isn’t. This is why in honour of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to share with you some helpful ways you can support your friends that may or may not be going through a difficult time in their life.
Stay in Regular Contact
It may seem simple and that’s because it is, but that doesn’t mean it has less value than anything else. Simple actions like sending a funny GIF or asking what adventure they went on today. Although they don’t seem like much these small things help to show your friends, that you’re there for them and that they do have value. This can be a huge problem that people face when struggling with mental health issues because they feel alone. It doesn’t have to be a text; it could be a phone call or popping round for a coffee. It’s these little actions that can speak volumes.
Encourage Them to Talk
There has always been a stigma around mental health that is finally starting to disappear, but people still don’t feel comfortable talking about it. This is why it’s our job to create a safe and positive environment that will encourage those around us to open up. Just let them know you’re available to listen if they just want to let it all out or if they’re having an off day. Just sitting down with a good cuppa and take the time to listen to their thoughts, fears and anxieties. They will truly appreciate it and do the same for you if you were to ever need it.
It’s important for you to remain as positive as you can when talking to your friend or loved one when giving advice. Never put them down and be sure to let them know their feelings are valid. Grow your ability to observe the world from multiple perspectives. This will help you become more empathetic with your friends and it will also help you let go of any judgements or biases you might tend to bring to interactions with others. Empathy and non-judgment are two essential skills that are like fuel to the fire of deepening relationships.
Respect Their Limits
Being encouraging can be super helpful and motivating but be sure to respect their limits. They may not feel up to the task, so resist pushing them to do things they might not feel ready for. Don’t give up on friends who might not be as readily present in your life to hop on planes and see where the adventure takes them, just be patient. By being loyal to your friends, you are building a strong support network for them that they will come to when the time is right.
Don’t Forget to Look After Yourself
You might be busy supporting your friend or family member, but you must always remember to look after yourself too. You can’t others if you’re not in the right headspace. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential.
We have found the following tools super useful for checking in with your mental health: