Supporting others

Have you noticed that a friend or family member has been acting a bit off lately?

Here are some signs that someone might be struggling with mental illness:

  1. Changes in personality (for example the person who is usually making a lot of jokes seems very serious now)
  2. Changes in emotion like uncharacteristic anger, anxiety or sensitivity 
  3. Isolation. The person may cancel plans more often or avoid conversations.
  4. The sudden absence of self-care. For example a decline in hygiene or personal appearance. (The person may have lost or gained a lot of weight or wears old clothes all of the time)
  5. Expressions of hopelessness or disencouragement. 
  6. The person acts irrationally and their actions are unpredictable

Even though there are certain symptoms for different mental health problems, one problem can appear in many different forms for different people. 

Since you are not a professional you should not try to diagnose someone with a specific mental illness. 

How to support someone struggling with mental illness

This is what you can do if you notice changes in the appearance or behaviour of a friend, colleague or family member.

When you notice that something is off,  you should act immediately, otherwise, you could lose valuable time getting support. 

We recommend these 6 steps to support the struggling person. 

  1. Create a safe space. Seek a spot with no distractions and face the person without any judgment. 
  2. If they have hurt themselves make sure they get appropriate first aid.
  3. Let them lead the conversation. They should decide if and how much they want to tell you. It needs a lot of courage to open up,  so do not pressure them
  4. Keep your language neutral, ask “Is something wrong?” rather than “I know something is wrong” 
  5. Repeat what they said to make sure you understood them correctly. Make them feel like you want to understand them and that what they said is valid. 
  6. Advise them to seek support and offer your help in that. For example advise to talk to a teacher, parent or professional and tell them about

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