It can be confusing and frustrating when someone you care about is struggling with mental health symptoms and you don’t know what to do. It’s natural to want to fix things as you care about them and want to see them feel better. I know it’s hard, but this is something you can’t just fix. However, there are many things you can do to help them improve their state of mind and mood.
One of the simplest things you can do is find information on what your loved one is struggling with. If their struggling with Depression, Anxiety, Grief, an Eating Disorder or anything else, do research and find out common symptoms. Simply educating yourself helps you understand what they’re feeling and most importantly, it could help you become more patient. No one chooses to struggle with a mental health disorder.
You don’t have to know what it feels like to be of help. Understanding more about their struggles, helps you take a step back and not get frustrated with them.
Ask them what do they need from you.
Again, naturally we want to be of help and fix things. But maybe you trying to help is not helping at all. Simply ask them what can you do to help them.
For example, people with Depression struggle with being around people but at the same time feel isolated. Ask them if it’s ok for you to be around them physically but not talk. Or if you’re far away, ask how often is it ok to check in with them.
Being supportive may sound obvious, but sometimes you may have good intentions but are not being helpful at all. I see this a lot with clients who struggle with Anxiety. People who struggle with anxiety are constantly worried and thinking ahead. Loved ones with good intentions say things like “just relax” or “don’t worry be positive” This is not helpful at all. Instead find out what they are worried about and focus on finding a solution. You can reassure them that you’re there for them no matter what.
Encourage them to get help.
When you feel like you’ve tried to help but the person is still struggling, encourage them to get professional help. You can suggest different Mental Health apps where someone can chat with a licensed professional, such as talkspace.com or betterhelp.com
You can even go with them to their first appointment with a therapist for emotional support. Getting help can be overwhelming. Being there supporting them can make it easier.
Take Care of Yourself
We can’t give to others what we don’t have ourselves. One of the best ways to help others is to make sure that you are good. When you are rested and have energy, it’s so much easier to be a good friend and be there for others. But if you’re struggling with your own problems, trying to be there for others can feel draining.
Relationships are work. With these tips hopefully you find a way to be of help to someone.
About the author.
Liza J Alvarado is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.