Speaking to a loved one who’s struggling can feel daunting, but being a willing pair of ears can really help to show we care.
We’ve gathered some tips to help you navigate talking to someone you know about their mental health.
Open the conversation with a broad question
It can be really hard for people to start talking about their mental health, so starting the conversation for them can be really helpful.
A simple “How are things for you right now?” or “Is everything ok?” shows allowed the person to choose how much they want to share, and shows you aren’t making assumptions about them.
Remember you can’t force people to open up, and if someone isn’t ready to share that should be respected.
Ask about how they’re feeling
Asking open and non-judgemental questions can help people express themselves, and shows that you care about their perspective.
These can be things like “how does that make you feel? Or “how’s that affecting you?”
Listen with empathy
There’s a lot of stigma around mental health, which can make people scared to be honest about their feelings. Letting your loved one speak without feeling judged can be a huge relief for them.
Saying things like “that must be really difficult,” “I get why it made you feel like that,” and “I’m here for you” can help people feel validated and supported.
Don’t try to fix it
It’s usually best not to give advice, unless the person asks you for it. Be mindful that giving overly optimistic responses can make them feel dismissed rather than encouraged.
The aim of your conservation is to let your loved one know they are supported, and allow them to get their feelings off their chest. Just listening is often powerful enough.
If they need a higher level of support, you can encourage them to reach out for professional help.
Be mindful of your limits
Hearing our loved ones talk about struggling can be difficult and emotional. It’s important to look after your own wellbeing and set boundaries on how much support you can offer.
Remember, your loved one won’t want your support to make you feel worse.
Looking for more suggestions? Check out these Talking Tips from Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.