How to Help a Friend Who is Struggling With Mental Health

As mental illness becomes increasingly prominent, more and more of us are seeing our closest friends struggle. But what is the best way we can help them?

Credit: The Guardian

The statistics are telling us everything. According to the Black Dog Institute, 1 in 5 Australians will experience a form of mental illness in their lifetime. Now, we can only assume the number is continuing to rise, after facing the loneliest years we have ever seen. COVID-19 has brought upon a sense of confusion, panic, and stress all while isolating us from those we love the most.

Globally, we have seen some of the detrimental effects a pandemic can hand to us. In the United States, family and marriage therapist Leah Seeger said to the New York Times,

“I believe I will be helping people navigate the effects of the pandemic for the rest of my career.”

This surge of mental illness now means we personally know people who are seriously struggling, but what is the best way to help them?

Knowing the Signs 

Before approaching a friend with your support, it’s important to know whether or not they are actually struggling with a mental illness.

Credit: South China Morning Post

As a friend, you should look out for any noticeable changes in their behaviour or mood that last longer than a week or two. However, mental illness looks different for everyone.

Reaching Out 

A common symptom of many mental health issues is feeling completely alone. Sometimes the best thing to help a friend is to be simply present. This can be in the form of being available to talk whenever they would like or continually checking in. When speaking to others, people who suffer from mental illness can learn that their diagnosis does not define them.

Australia’s own Crown Princess Mary has shown her passion for mental health and states in her biography,

“It is important that we as a society do not see mental illness as something you are, but – just like other illnesses – something you have.”

Credit: Royal Central

Seeking Help from Others

Knowing when it’s time to prioritise your own mental health while helping someone else with their own is extremely important. It can be emotionally draining to hear about someone’s experiences, especially when they are close to you. When it becomes too much to handle, you should assist your friend in finding a professional they can talk to about their mental health. In doing this together, the idea of speaking to a stranger about your problems is no longer so daunting.

Credit: Forbes

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please check out Beyond Blue OR Black Dog Institute. To speak to someone immediately, call lifeline on 13 11 14.

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