How to Support Friends and Family Struggling with Mental Health

January 09, 2023 by Connections Health Solutions

It’s not easy to watch friends or family struggle with mental health issues. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to support your loved ones.  

 

Talk To Your Loved One 

Talking to someone who’s dealing with mental health issues is a great opportunity to show support, compassion, and make that person feel cared about.  

 

Start a Conversation  

You can express your concern for a loved one’s well-being by saying something like “I’m worried about you” or “It seems like you’re going through a difficult experience.” Then, consider adding an invitation to talk with you or someone else, such as “Can we talk about what you’re going through?” or “How can I help you find help?” Stick with “I” statements and avoid you” statements like “You need to…” or “You should…” Be patient and non-judgmental. If your loved one doesn’t want to talk to you, encourage them to talk to someone else they trust or to a mental health professional. 

 

Be Open to Talking 

If a loved one starts a conversation with you about their mental health, be responsive, supportive, and open-minded. Ask how they’re feeling, but don’t be insulted if they’re not ready to share every detail. Validate their feelings by saying things like “That sounds like it was difficult” or “I’m sorry that happened to you. Being a good listener and listening without judgment can help your loved one know their feelings and mental health matter. Avoid comments like “It could always be worse” or “Just cheer up, which come off as being dismissive of their struggles and can make your loved one feel criticized or misunderstood. 

 

Connect Loved Ones to Professional Help 

When talking to a friend or family member who’s struggling with mental health issues, remind them they don’t have to deal with their struggles alone. Help is available and mental health issues are treatable. Encourage loved ones to seek help from a mental health professional. You can also share mental health resources, such as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, our list of online resources for anxiety, or the CDC’s list of helplines. If your loved one is experiencing a crisis and is in Phoenix or Tucson, see if a Connections Health Solutions crisis response center is nearby. 

 

Make Your Loved One Feel Included 

Continue inviting your friends and family members to be part of your plans, even if they keep resisting your invitations. Don’t be forceful, but let your loved one know they are welcome to join, which can help them feel included and supported.   

 

Offer To Help with Everyday Tasks 

Daily tasks can feel overwhelming for someone is struggling with mental health. Offer to help with daily tasks or to-do list items that are causing stress, such as doing the dishes or taking out the trash. 

 

 

There are many ways to support friends and family who are struggling with mental health. To learn more about how Connections can help, view our Patients page or contact us. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources 

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members 

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/helping-a-loved-one-cope-with-a-mental-illness 

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2018/Please-Don-t-React-Respond 


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