Hello! Welcome back to my blog. Thank you so much for the topic suggestion, Miss Emma ❤
Like always, this topic is going to cover mental health, and mental health support.
“How can I support my friend that struggles with X?” Great question! Let me see if I can offer some help. It can be hard and confusing sometimes to know how to offer support to others in the way that they need. Often times I think we may reply with more simplistic terms or phrases in order to distract from getting to know our, or someone else’s deeper emotional needs.
The key to supporting others, especially when it comes to mental health, is simply by asking how you can be supportive to them. Some people may not know what they need, some people may have a list, some people may just want a hug. Asking how to be supportive avoids giving unsolicited advice, physical affection, etc. to someone who may not be seeking that type of support.
I am NOT a professional. Although, I have my own personal experience with counseling (13+ years) my own mental health struggles, and I study Psychology, This written information is NOT intended as a substitute for medical or mental health care advice. Please be sure to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with a professional.
If someone you, or someone you love or know (or don’t know) is struggling with mental health, thoughts of self harm, suicide, or anything else that may be of concern, it is always a safe idea to contact the Suicide Hotline for further help. They can get you, or another person into contact with someone you/they may need. 1-800-273-8255. You’re NOT alone. ❤
Disclaimer: One size does not fit all with being an ally or advocate for supporting those with mental health struggles. This article is simply for guidance and based off of my experience with my own mental struggles and what I think would help myself, and others. There are so many others ways to be supportive and be an ally to those who you love and support, or those you many not even know. Now, onto some good’stuff.
Here are some things I have come up with:
- Ask Supportive & Open Ended Questions
Here are a few examples:
- “In what ways can I be of support to you right now?”
- “What do you need from me in the future, or in this moment?”
- Using the phrase “Do you want me to just listen, or would you like a response/advice from me?” after someone has shared with you
By asking open ended questions such as the ones above, you are leaving it open to the individual to tell you what their needs are instead of assuming or generalizing what kind of support/advice/help they may want or need. Everyone has a different story, and not all needs are the same even for people struggling from similar, or different circumstances/disorders.
2. Seek to Understand, Not to Respond
As my counselor always told me, you have to ears and one mouth, listen twice as much as you speak.
Responses that people have shared with me:
“Listen and don’t try to find a solution to everything; just being there and offering support”
“Listen! Always be willing to listen and validate how they feel.”
Do we see a common word here? Yes, (listen) <3. Lend a listening ear. If if you aren’t in a good mental space to be there or support someone at that point in time, share that with them and ask if they have other support systems in place. If you so wish, share that you would love to be there when you’re in a better place yourself. Its good to take care of yourself first, so you can also be there for others.
And then when you’re able to be there, follow through. Reliable sources of support are so important. Even if they’re not available every single time you ever need them. (Thank you so very much KBrad, I love you forever).
3. Do. Your. Research!
As my friend stated, “Research the disorders your loved ones have! Learn about their struggles. Don’t constantly ask them about it, information is out there for education”, (Personal input…please do your research, we all deal with enough of our own things, explaining disorders to others constantly when there is plenty of information out there, is exhausting). Understand, and ask questions. And if this doesn’t work, she said print out resources and hand them to others. She said, “After telling my family that their “comfort” was dismissive, I printed out resources for them“. Sometimes, to really help yourself, you may have to take manners into your own hands for your own sake. However, help us help you by doing your own research, please.
We can all be better in areas of our life when it comes to helping ourselves and others. Do some research on how to be there for people with whatever struggle they encounter whether it be mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, etc., or even just how to be a better communicator! Here are some resources:
4. Learn their love language!
For anyone who may not know, a love language is defined as “An outline of five ways to express and experience love between romantic partners” (its not just romantic, its any relationship, including with yourself). The 5 categories are:
- Words of Affirmation – Thank you for looking after me, Thank you for always being there for me.
- Quality time – Plan out your next vacation together, Find a new recipe and make it for dinner together, Take a mini road trip.
- Receiving Gifts – Bring them their favorite flowers, just because, Buy them something they’ve been wanting for awhile, Send them a surprise package at work.
- Acts of Service – Prepare breakfast, lunch, or dinner for your partner, or friend. Clean your partner’s car before they wake up, Take the kids and leave your partner (or friend) to relax with no responsibilities for a few hours, Take out the trash, Help them do their laundry or do it for them.
- Physical Touch – Hug them hello and goodbye, (Always ask if they’re okay with it), Give them a neck rub or back scratch, Celebrate with a high five or fist bump.
Maybe the person who needs support doesn’t know how to communicate their needs at that moment, or they don’t know what to ask from you, or may even be afraid. Getting to know what makes another person feel good, such as these categories and examples above, may be of great support and love for those who are struggling you can give without necessarily asking.
Take the quiz and find out yours, now! https://www.5lovelanguages.com/
5. Check in on them!
- “Hey, I am just checking in with you. I wanted to see how you’re doing. How are you? I know things have been hard the last few days (insert whatever you need to there), and I want to know how I can be here to support you.
- Send them a funny picture or meme
- Send them a picture of the two of you, or one of your favorite memories together
- If you don’t know the individual, asking them easygoing questions about what they like, like their favorite hobbies or things they like to do. This might help to ease their mind and forward it to a more lightening experience<3
- Get creative, ask them what they’re doing or not doing, and say that’s okay anyways! Just hear them! *REMEMBER* Everyone is always doing the best that they can at any given moment. Be patient. Be kind. Be willing to understand and listen to what they share with you.
With all the kindness and love in the world, leave your thoughts, comments and replies below!
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