Mental Health and Wellbeing Support

We all share the need for mental health wellbeing and emotional balance in our lives, but the challenge of coping with the ups and downs of personal, family and work life can push us into a state of poor mental health where we struggle to restore that balance. We run to help us de-stress our minds and restore the resilience we need to cope with the ever-changing nature of home and work life. However, equally important is talking with someone we trust, to share our mental health problems and feel supported in return. This section provides the following guidance on supporting someone who is experiencing a mental health problem, and sources of professional help and support:

  1. How to start a conversation with someone about mental health
  2. How to support someone to seek help
  3. What to do if it is a mental health emergency
  4. Where to get professional help and support
  5. Where to find out more about mental health problems
  6. Where to find out about mental health training

1. How Do I Start a Conversation with Someone About Mental Health?

Please note that the information in this section is the copyright of Time To Change, a social movement working to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems. For more information, visit Time to Change. We know talking about mental health is not always easy. But starting a conversation doesn’t have to be awkward, and being there for someone can make a huge difference. There is no right way to talk about mental health. There is no right place either. You can talk about mental health anywhere – at home, at work or up a mountain! The main thing to consider is that the conversation is safe and discreet. However, if you’re not sure how to get a conversation started, there are plenty of different ideas you could try. Whether you would like to open up to others about your own mental illness or support someone you know, here are just a few tips.

Start small

Many people find talking in person intimidating, and that’s understandable. But it doesn’t need to stop you from starting a conversation altogether. You could make a quick phone call, send your best mate a text, or leave a note for a parent.

“It is not the massive gestures or the giant paragraphs that have made the biggest difference, but the little things. It doesn’t take long to send a quick text, but the impact it has is huge. A text from a friend reinforced how I wasn’t alone.” Thea

Find a good time & place

Sometimes it’s easier to talk side-by-side rather than face-to-face. So, if you do talk in person, you might want to chat while you are doing something else. You could start a conversation when you’re walking, cooking or stuck in traffic.

“Walking together or sitting driving are both amazing, because the experience of talking to someone whilst you’re side by side can be so much more freeing and less daunting than face to face. The changing scenery helps too.” Rachel

Ask questions (gently!)

There are lots of misconceptions around mental illness. That means asking questions can be an important way of learning. Just remember not to get too personal, and be aware if the discussion is making someone feel uncomfortable.

“It is far better to ask people the questions you have outright rather than assuming things. People with a mental health condition can always tell you politely if you’re wrong. If you ask a stupid question, then you can both laugh later together.” Alice

Be open

Being open and honest with others can help to build trust. For example, you might choose to tell your friend something about you that they may not know. Of course don’t feel pressure to share anything that you are not comfortable with.

“It doesn’t have to be anything major – but being a bit more open about things, especially as a man, can often encourage a good friend to do the same.”

Treat them the same

When someone is diagnosed with a mental illness, they’re still the same person as they were before. And that means when a friend or loved one opens up about mental health, they don’t want to be treated any differently. If you want to support them, keep it simple. Do the things you’d normally do.

“If you’d usually meet for a meal, don’t say let’s go to the zoo. Keep things the way they were ‘before’.” Ana

2. How Can I Support a Friend, a Family Member or Someone Else to Seek Help?

The information in this section is the copyright of Mind, the mental Health Charity, of which this is an extract. The information is published in full on the Mind website: Helping someone else seek help. Being open to mental health doesn’t have to be awkward and being there for someone can make a huge difference to his or her life. Many people experiencing a mental health problem will speak to friends and family before they speak to a health professional, so the support you offer can be really valuable.

What emotional support can I offer?

If someone lets you know that they are experiencing difficult thoughts and feelings, it’s common to feel like you don’t know what to do or say – but you don’t need any special training to show someone you care about them. Often just being there for someone and doing small things can be really valuable. For example:

  • Listen
  • Offer reassurance
  • Stay calm
  • Be patient
  • Try not to make assumptions
  • Keep social contact

What practical support can I offer?

There are lots of practical things you can do to support someone who is ready to seek help. For example:

  • Look for information that might be helpful
  • Help to write down lists of questions
  • Help to organise paperwork
  • Go to appointments with them
  • Ask them if there are any specific practical tasks you could help with
  • Learn more about the problem they experience

What can I do if someone doesn’t want my help?

If you feel that someone you care about is clearly struggling but can’t or won’t reach out for help, and won’t accept any help you offer, it’s understandable to feel frustrated, distressed and powerless. But it’s important to accept that they are an individual, and that there are always limits to what you can do to support another person. You can:

  • Be patient
  • Offer emotional support and reassurance
  • Inform them how to seek help when they are ready
  • Look after yourself

You can’t:

  • Force someone to talk to you
  • Force someone to get help
  • See a doctor for someone else

What if they believe things that seem very unusual or scary to me?

If someone is experiencing reality in a very different way from people around them, they may not realise or agree that seeking help could be useful for them. They may be experiencing psychosis, mania, hearing voices or feeling very paranoid. In this case it can also be helpful to:

  • Focus on how their beliefs are making them feel
  • Avoid confirming or denying their beliefs

How can I look after myself?

Supporting someone else can be challenging. Making sure that you look after your own wellbeing can mean that you have the energy, time and distance to help someone else. For example:

  • Take a break when you need it
  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Set boundaries and be realistic about what you can do
  • Share your caring role with others, if you can

3. What Can I Do If It’s an Emergency, for Example, if Someone is Having Suicidal Thoughts or is Planning on Ending Their Life?

The information in this section is the copyright of Mind, the mental Health Charity, of which this is an extract. The information is published in full on the Mind website: Supporting someone who feels suicidal There may be times when your friend or family member needs to seek help more urgently, such as if they:

  • Have harmed themselves and need medical attention
  • Are having suicidal feelings, and feel they may act on them
  • Are putting themselves or someone else at immediate, serious risk of harm.

In this case:

  • If they are not safe by themselves right now – as long as you feel able to do so, you should stay with them and help them call 999 for an ambulance, or help them get to A&E. They may appreciate it if you can wait with them until they can see a doctor.
  • If they can keep themselves safe for a little while – you can get quick medical advice by calling NHS Direct on 111 (England) or 0845 46 47 (Wales), or you could help them make an emergency GP appointment to see a doctor soon. You can encourage them to call the Samaritans on 116 123 at any time of night or day to talk to someone, or try other telephone support services. It may also be helpful to remove things that they could use to harm themselves, particularly if they have mentioned specific things they might use.
  • If you feel personally in danger right now, or that others are in immediate danger – you can dial 999 and ask for the police to help. You might feel worried about getting someone in trouble, but it’s important to put your own safety first.

4. Where Can I Get Professional Help and Support?

These are some of the many organisations that offer mental health help and support services:

5. Where Can I Find Out More About Mental Health Problems?

This information is the copy right of Mind, the mental health charity, and is published in full on the Mind website: Types of mental health problems If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health problem, or you want to understand someone else’s mental health problem, you might be looking for information on your diagnosis, treatment options and where to go for support.

6. Is External Training Available to Help Me Support a Friend or Family Member?

A number of organisations offer training about mental health problems, including the following: