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Supporting someone with a mental health problem

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How do I know if they've a mental health problem?

Sometimes it will seem obvious when someone is going through a hard time, but there is no simple way of knowing if they have a mental health problem. Sometimes you don’t need to know. It’s more important to respond sensitively than to find out whether or not they have a diagnosis.
Although certain symptoms are common with specific mental health problems, no two people behave in exactly the same way when they are unwell.

8 tips for talking about mental health

1.

Set aside time with no distractions

2.

Let them share as much or as little as they want to

3.

Don't try to diagnose or second guess their feelings

4.

Keep questions open ended

5.

Talk about self-care

6.

Listen carefully to what they tell you

7.

Offer them help in seeking professional support and provide information on ways to do this

8.

Know your limits

How do I respond in a crisis?

1.

Listen without making judgements and concentrate on their needs in that moment

2.

Ask them what would help them

3.

Reassure and signpost to practical information or resources

4.

Avoid confrontation

5.

Ask if there is someone they would like you to contact

6.

Encourage them to seek appropriate professional help

7.

If they have hurt themselves, make sure they get the first aid they need

How do I respond if someone is suicidal?

If someone tells you they are feeling suicidal or can’t go on, it is very important to encourage them to get help. You can ask how they are feeling and let them know that you are available to listen. Talking can be a great help to someone who is feeling suicidal, but it may be distressing for you. It is important for you to talk to someone about your own feelings and the Samaritans can help you as well.

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