From conversations I’ve had socially over the years, and an increasing amount of enquiries I’ve been receiving professionally recently has involved people being worried about or seeing a loved one not well. Either through noticing changes in behaviour like loved ones becoming more distant, acting out or clear displays of psychological distress. This can be very distressing in itself due to the feeling of helplessness it can create.
Rather than reinventing the wheel I thought it was best to share an article I came across which I feel has put together a good user friendly guide on how to approach the issue and start a conversation sensitively and compassionately. As often the difficulties being experienced create feelings of shame.
Below are two sections to give you a bit of a taster from the Counselling Directory website....
Worried about someone else?
If you're worried about someone else's mental health, then it's important to do what you can to help. The question is - what can you do? You might wonder if it's even your job to get involved, or whether your interference will just make things worse. How do you even bring up the subject of mental or emotional health with a friend, family member, or colleague? Will they be insulted? Will they think you're being nosy? What if you push them further into denial or trigger even worse feelings and behaviours?
Being worried about someone else's mental health and not knowing what to do can be extremely stressful. The action you take will depend on your relationship with this person and it will also depend on what kind of problem you suspect they have. While every situation is different, there are some practical guidelines you can follow for knowing what to say and where to get help. The more you know about mental health and counselling, the better position you will be in to offer informed advice and get the support that person needs. Remember, it helps to feel like someone else cares. Without support, compassion and empathy, mental illness can be a very lonely road.
Should I talk to them?
Yes - if you're worried about someone else's mental health then the best thing you can do is talk to them. You never know, they might have been struggling to bring up the topic with you.
Often the hardest part of having a mental illness - whether diagnosed or not, is not knowing how to talk about it. Living with a mental illness can be a lonely experience. What if people make judgements? What if it affects employability, or ruins relationships and friendships? While you may not know (or ever know) how this person is feeling inside, you can help them by asking questions and inviting them to talk about how they feel. Even if they're not ready to open up to you, the interest you show in them will help them see that someone is there to listen.
For the full article please click here