How to help your someone
When mental illness affects someone in your life, it can be difficult to know what to do and say. You might be worried you could overwhelm them, or alienate them, say the wrong thing or make matters worse. If you don’t have any prior experience or knowledge to draw on, it can be a confronting to deal with.
You do not need a psych degree to be of some assistance to your someone. What you do need, is to show them that you care and you are willing to help where you can. Something as simple as asking if there is something you can do for them. They might need you to drive them to an appointment, help them make a phone call or simply sit with them for a minute. It may not seem like much, but if you are the first person to ask it can make all the difference in the world.
Another really great thing you can do is educate yourself. If your someone has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, bipolar – whatever it is; it’s important you know all about it. Workshops like the ones we run are a great introduction to the realm of mental health. There are so many websites like Beyond Blue, SANE, REACHOUT, headspace; that have accurate and reliable information. They also all have resource pages to send you in the right direction. The internet has a lot of misinformation and it’s important to get your facts right. Once you have the appropriate knowledge, you can talk with your someone about what treatments or interventions might work for them. Being able to suggest a range of different options and allowing you someone to make an informed choice can be a big step in the right direction.
It’s important to note, that even with the appropriate knowledge and skills, these conversations won’t always go well. Your someone needs to be ready to take the step forward, and if they aren’t you should be prepared for a negative response. Please don’t get disheartened! The way mental illness works means the person won’t always except the help they need. It our job, as their someone, to keep checking in. Keep popping into to see them, keep calling and texting and tagging them in memes on facebook. Isolation is not a friend we want to let move in!
It can seem like an overwhelming task to help your someone through this difficult time. You are not alone in thinking this. It’s ok to say -“ I’m worried about you and I don’t know what to do, maybe we should find some help together” – letting your someone know that you will walk beside them on this journey can be a great comfort. This also takes the pressure off you – you DO NOT need to have all answers or fix all the problems.
All you need to do is be your someone’s, someone who cares.