Updated: Sep 14, 2021
It is not a secret that the pandemic has sparked a rising in people suffering and dealing with their mental health. We can see and read online that the stigma around the topic is getting smaller and smaller. However, that does not mean that everyone understands and knows how to support someone struggling with their mental health.
We have to understand that it is not always obvious that we have a friend, colleague, or family member suffering. Just because you see someone is always smiling and active does not mean that person is okay. Unfortunately, there is no simple method to know that someone has a mental health problem. Not all mental health struggles look the same.
We currently live in a society that is everyone for themselves these days. We forget the sense of being there for others. Have this clear; your friend does not need to share with you that they have mental health problems to respond sensitively and understanding.
Here are some tips on how you can be a support system for someone who might need it:
1- Simply listen, no distractions.
Make sure you carefully listen to what your friend is sharing with you. Sometimes it might be direct, and other times you will have to put pieces together. But, first, you must create a safe zone where they can share their thoughts and feelings without being judged.
2- Ask open questions.
Simply be curious about what the person is going through and how this is impacting them. Instead of going with yes-or-no questions, try to formulate questions that will allow them to share more details with you. For example, "How long have you been dealing with this?" "How have you been coping till now?", "When do you feel that all this started?".
3- Ask how you can help.
Instead of making assumptions about what would be helpful, ask them directly how you can support them. Usually, you want to try to fix the situation. However, you have to understand that it's not your process. What you may need when you are struggling doesn't necessarily mean what your friend is looking for.
4- Do not take their behavior personally.
Your friend's mental health struggles are often unpredictable. They might be not so talkative as usual, or they keep rescheduling plans. So while you may feel hurt, please do not assume that their actions reflect how they feel about you.
5- Check on them regularly.
Remind your friend that you are available for anything, that you care and love them. A quick text here and there is fine. Keep them company when you can.
Being a supportive system for someone else is not an easy road. There will be many bumps and moments that you feel like you don't know what to do, and that's okay. You will have to take care of yourself while finding a balance to still be there for your friend.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of Phryme.