How to Support Your Loved Ones on World Mental Health Day

How to Support Your Loved Ones on World Mental Health Day

Mental health can influence your energy levels, personality, perspective on life, and physical health. And unfortunately, poor mental health isn’t as rare as you may think. One in four Britons have experienced poor mental health as some period in their lives. To raise awareness, the 10th October is World Mental Health Day. During this time, reach out to loved ones, evaluate your own mental health and how you can work on yourself to be happier through therapeutic practices like mindfulness. 

People who are going through a tough time with their mental health can often feel isolated, misunderstood and anxious. In many cases, they will struggle to reach out to loved ones or professionals in order to address the problem. Because of this, try to make a change on the 10th October. Make the first move in reaching out to loved one — it will make the world of difference to their wellbeingRead on to find out how best to approach the subject. 

  1. Look out for the signs  

People who are experiencing a tough time are likely to feel isolated. They may not come to you directly to discuss mental health issues, so you should try and be on the lookout for some tell-tale signs. These signs can include: 

  • Panic attacks  
  • Lack of social interest 
  • Low confidence  
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Getting tearful on a regular basis 
  • Obsessive behaviour   

Mental health is complex and has many problems with it. But, if a loved on is showing any of these signs then it is worth reaching out and offering your support.   

2. Check in on them  

If someone is experiencing problems, supporting them is essential in helping them. Some people can put up a front and may seem perfectly fine on the surface. However, anyone could be struggling, even if they are smiling through it. Take your friend out for a coffee or send your relative a mindfulness card to let them know that you’re thinking of them. Not only will this action alone make them feel seen, but it will give them an opportunity to open up in a safe and comfortable space. Just popping in for a cup of tea can make the world of difference.  

When meeting with a friend to check up on them, where you meet is also important. Make sure you choose a peaceful place to have the conversation, with few distractions so that they feel comfortable and focussed. Remember, you are not a doctor, so don’t try and diagnose them. Primarily, you are there to listen and comfort rather than to offer medical advice. Keep your questions open ended and try not to second guess their answers. Another useful approach is to repeat their answers back to them so that they feel confident that you are giving them your full attention and understanding them.  

Let them know that you’ll be right there with them every step of the way and that you’ll support them in any lifestyle changes they want to make. If the problem feels out of your hands, encourage your loved one to seek medical advice. Offer help in finding professional support or direct them towards a helpline such as the Samaritans.  

3. Send a mindfulness card  

Text messages are quick and easy, but receiving a card is much more special. Greeting card suppliers offer many cards that have been specifically designed around mindfulness practices and mental wellbeing. Choosing one of these rather than sending a quick text will show your loved one that you’ve really been thinking about them. Furthermore, a handwritten message or postcard triggers a stronger emotional response than a text or online message. It could make the world of difference to someone who is going through a difficult period. Find some examples of thoughtful mindfulness cards below. 

sending hugs

thinking of you

just thinking of you

4. Help them practice mindfulness  

Although these suggestions are helpful and positive for mental health, they will not just solve your loved one’s mental health problems. Mindfulness is officially defined as a “quality or state of being conscious or aware of something” and mindfulness practice revolves around gaining greater control over your emotions. The practice is rooted in Buddhist philosophies and has helped many people manage mental help difficulties through fitting simple routines into their day. You can practice mindfulness by: 

  • Trying meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi 
  • Slowing down  
  • Practicing deep breathing exercises 
  • Taking notice of the little things 
  • Downloading a mindfulness app 

Participating in mindfulness with your loved one will not only support them but benefit your own mental health. Looking after your own mental health is of vital importance if you want to support a loved one. As the analogy goes, you have to attach your own oxygen mask before you can start helping others with theirs. You can help build a more robust support system on strong and healthy foundations, so don’t neglect your own mental health in place of others’. 

5. Raise awareness   

Another important way to show support is to help raise awareness on World Mental Health Day. Be loud and proud about your support, and make sure others know how best to assist their friends and relatives. Even today in 2019, there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, so tackle that head-on by talking about it. Perhaps you have a sceptical family member, or a friend who hasn’t read-up on the issue? Next time you see them, try not to shy aware from the topic — the more people engaged in the conversation this World Mental Health Day the better.  

 

For any further advice or support, call the Samaritans helpline for free: 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org (response time: 24 hours). 

 

Sources 

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45815679 

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/supporting-someone-mental-health-problem 

https://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/encyclopaedia/m/article/mentalhealth 

https://www.samaritans.org/ 

 

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash