How to Support Someone Struggling With Their Mental Health
Updated: Feb 25
Talking about mental illness and mental health struggles can be incredibly helpful. However, many people don't know how to start conversations or help in other ways. Below is a list of things that you can do to support someone (or yourself) struggling with their mental health.
1. Recognize warning signs of mental illnesses
If you notice that somebody seems tired, restless, agitated, sad, or withdrawn, simply asking the person about how they are feeling is a good idea. Some other warning signs that something could be seriously wrong include expressing negative thoughts, joking about suicide and mental health, and expressing decreased confidence. Again, if you notice any of these signs, you should check in and ask how the person is doing. Sometimes this simple recognition of their thoughts and feelings can help improve someone's mental state tremendously, and can let them know it is safe to talk about what they're going through. To see more warning signs of mental illnesses and information about next steps, click here.
2. Let people know that you care about them and support them
You can limit someone's feelings of loneliness and isolation by letting them know that you are there for them and that you care about them. Let them know that you are open to talking about anything that they feel that they need to talk about, and let them know that you support them no matter what they're going through. It is also good to let people know that you care about them and support them even if you don't think that they're struggling, since you never know what people are going through.
3. Offer to help them seek professional help
If you are concerned that someone may be struggling, ask if they have considered seeking professional help. Don't try to force them to seek help, but simply let them know that since you care about their well-being, you would support their decision to seek help in developing coping strategies. You can find resources that you can share with them on the "Resources" tab of this website, or by clicking here.
A list of good statements to start the conversation:
1. You are not alone.
2. I will always be here for you no matter what.
3. I may not completely understand what you are feeling, but I will always support you.
4. I am not going to leave you or abandon you.
5. You can always talk to me about anything. I'm always listening.
A list of things that you shouldn't say to someone struggling with mental illness:
1. Do not ask them to explain why they are feeling a particular way.
2. Do not try to offer your opinions about their feelings.
3. Do not say that the solution is simple or that they should "just do" something to get better.
4. Do not tell them that everyone goes through times like this and that they will get over it.
5. Don't tell them "don't worry" or "don't be sad."