One in five adults experience a mental illness in a given
year. Unfortunately, many of these individuals are not well informed about how
to recognize mental health problems, how to respond or what treatments are
available. Often, they delay getting help unless someone close to them suggests
That’s why it’s critical you understand how to identify
mental health and substance use issues and know how to support a loved one who
may be struggling.
Use these tips from Mental Health First Aid to provide
support and reassurance to those closest to you.
Treat the person with respect and dignity. Each person’s situation and needs are unique. It’s important to listen nonjudgmentally and respect the person’s privacy and confidentiality, unless you are concerned the person is at risk of harming self or others.
Offer consistent emotional support and understanding. Your loved one needs additional love and understanding when going through a difficult time, so remember to be empathetic, compassionate and patient. Offer the person kindness and attention and let them know that there is no risk of abandonment.
Have realistic expectations. Accept the person as he or she is and have realistic expectations. When going through a tough time, it can be harder than usual to do everyday activities like cleaning the house, paying bills or feeding the dog. Acknowledge that the person is not “faking,” “lazy,” “weak,” or “selfish.”
Give the person hope. Remind your loved one that with time and treatment, they will feel better and there is hope for a more positive future.
Provide practical help.Offer the person practical help with overwhelming tasks but be careful not to take over or encourage dependency.
Offer information.Offer the person information and resources for additional support, including self-help strategies and professional help.
To learn more ways to support your loved ones, take Mental Health First Aid. The course will teach you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health to substance use issues. Join the millions of Americans who are already trained and #BeTheDifference for your loved ones today.
Get the latest MHFA blogs, news and updates delivered directly to your inbox so you never miss a post.