Whenever we see a loved one struggling, all we want to do is help. When it comes to mental health, we often feel helpless. Sometimes what we view as helpful may have the opposite effect for the person we are trying to assist. So how can we help?
Firstly, communication is key. Ask your loved one if and how you can help. This way no guesswork is involved and if they need something from you, they can ask. Whenever you want to truly help someone, they need to feel that they can trust you. Open, honest communication is vital in order to actually help someone.
If the person is feeling lost and unsure of how you can help, then suggest whatever comes to your mind. It’s purely a suggestion and there should be no pressure from your side. It’s a way to get the ball rolling so to speak. Equally, be prepared to back off. That leads me to my next point…
An unfortunate fact is that sometimes we can’t help. When it comes to other people’s mental health, they need to have the desire to improve it. Having guidance at times can be useful but ultimately a person needs to understand their own mental health and make a decision on how to improve their situation.
Wanting to help somebody but not being able to can cause a multitude of problems in any kind of relationship and even lead to it breaking down. It’s a frustrating place to be; seeing someone you love hurting but those are times when the best thing you can do is just be there for that person. Leave them alone if they need space. Suggest an activity if they want to do something. Just sit with them if they don’t want to be alone.
Time does heal and sometimes being alone allows you that time, to process what’s going on in your own head. By trying to figure everything out for someone, they may get lost in their own thoughts and be confused as to what they actually are thinking and feeling. Once they have their own understanding, they can choose to move forward and it’s at that point they wil probably ask for help in overcoming their demons.
If you feel your willingness to help is brushed aside, just acknowledge that that’s not your responsibility. It’s ok to help but it’s ok to move aside and let them figure it out. That’s the best way to save a relationship. When a person is going through crisis, you can keep yourself stable. Most likely, they will gravitate back to that stability. None of us actually like living in chaos.
Don’t forget, you can get your anxiety guides that are filled with practical advice and prompts to help manage anxiety: