Supporting Someone Who Is Struggling

Society today can be a stressful place with constant demands and unfortunately, mental illness or symptoms of mental illness are becoming all too common. We need to remember that sometimes, it’s not that people don’t want to help, it’s just that they don’t know how to and this maybe something you have struggled with at one time or another.

On the other hand although we would do absolutely anything for the important people in our life, there can be a line where it becomes difficult in knowing what you can do to help. Unfortunately some questions that go through peoples minds and often stop them from asking  if someone needs help  include:

+ What happens if what we say or do makes things worse?
+ What we say?

+ What happens if we offend the person or if we can’t fix the problem?

So what can you do?

Ask them how they are
+ Ask the person how they are doing, and really listen and reflect on what they have said even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Once you have taken in what they have said, respond with comments such as:
+ “Wow, that’s really tough”
+ “I can see why you feel so bad”.

Responding with the above will help to validate what the other person is saying, and help them to feel more accepted, listened to, and “normal”.

Don’t try to ‘fix’ them
+ If someone is asking for help, remove the pressure of trying to ‘fix’ them or the issue. Give them the space to talk and only talk, and allow them to feel listened to.

If you think you can solve their problem, ask their permission first

If you think you may know of a way to solve their problem, ask them whether they want to hear it. You need to consider that perhaps they don’t want you to solve their problem, and having someone tell them what to do can actually make them feel worse. The best way to approach this could be with one of the two following statements:

“I think I know what you could do, did you want to talk about it?”
“Did you want any suggestions?” 

Asking these questions first can give the person their power back and allow them to respond accordingly to how they are feeling.

Encourage them to seek the right type of action 
It’s very important we don’t try to give answers in a way that will make them feel overwhelmed or close down. We want to encourage the person to take action on what they can control. If their issues and problems are overwhelming or upsetting them, encourage them to seek professional help.

Be there for them
Showing that you are there for them can mean a lot to someone. You don’t need to be the one to solve their problems, sometimes just being there and showing them you care like bringing them food, or going out for coffee with them can really make all the difference.

Check in regularly.

It is important to check in regularly to see how they are going. Did they have a few good days? Did they have a few bad ones? Knowing you are there consistently and regularly checking in will reassure the person that you actually care about them and they can trust and depend on you.

What if the person doesn’t want to be helped?

+ If you are worried about this person and they don’t want help, you do need to let them know that you are worried about them and why. Allowing them to hear this can sometimes help to put it in perspective. Also, hearing that someone else is concerned about us may also help us to feel supported and loved.

+ You need to also consider that you may not be the person they wish to help them. It may be better for them to have a non bias party such as a therapist for them to talk to.  

+Be consistent in your support and continue to let the person know you are there for them.

+It is important to ensure you are not making your friendship with the person solely around you fixing their problem – or else it isn’t really a friendship. Just be there for them and continue to do the things you normally would.

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