Supporting a Friend or Family Member with Mental Health Problems

Mental Health problems can be suffered by anyone could be your friends or family members but having support from someone you know can make all the difference in a person’s recovery.

You can help your friend or family member by recognizing the signs of mental health problems and connecting them to professional help. 

Talking to friends and family about mental health problems can be an opportunity to provide information, support, and guidance.

·       Improved recognition of early signs of mental health problems

·       Earlier treatment

·       Greater understanding and compassion

·       Finding out if the person is getting the care that he or she needs and wants—if not, connect him or her to help.

·       Expressing your concern and support

·       Reminding your friend or family member that help is available and that mental health problems can be treated

·       Asking questions, listening to ideas, and being responsive when the topic of mental health problems come up

·       Reassuring your friend or family member that you care about him or her.

·       Offering to help your friend or family member with everyday tasks

·       Including your friend or family member in your plans—continue to invite them over.

·       Treating people with mental health problems with respect, compassion, and empathy


How to Talk About Mental Health

Here are a few ways you can start a conversation about mental health.

·       I’ve been worried about you. Can we talk about what you are experiencing? If not, who are you comfortable talking to?

·       I am someone who cares and wants to listen. What do you want me to know about how you are feeling?

·       I’m concerned about your safety.

·       Sometimes talking to someone who has dealt with a similar experience helps. Do you know of others who have experienced these types of problems who you can talk with?

·       It seems like you are going through a difficult time. How can I help you to find help?

·       How can I help you find more information about mental health problems?

·       Know how to connect people to help.

·       Communicate in a straightforward manner

·       Speak at a level appropriate to a person’s age and development level

·       Discuss the topic when and where the person feels safe and comfortable

·       Watch for reactions during the discussion and slow down or back up if the person becomes confused or looks upset.

Feelings of sadness, anxiety, worry, irritability, or sleep problems are common for most people. However, when these feelings get very intense, last for a long period of time, and begin to interfere with school, work, and relationships, it may be a sign of a mental health problem. And just like people need to take medicine and get professional help for physical conditions, someone with a mental health problem may need to take medicine and/or participate in therapy in order to get better.

Get Help for Your Friend or Family Member

Seek immediate assistance if you think your friend or family member is in danger of harming themselves.