My best friend is a great guy. I've written about him before, and when I told him I was starting a blog I asked him for ideas. One of the things he came back to me with was "how can I identify people who are struggling and what can I do to help?" This post is for him, and for those of you out there who might not struggle with your mental health but know someone who does.
It was Mental Health Awareness Day yesterday, which meant that there was loads of chat about how it's good to talk, and how you should definitely tell everyone you know that you're struggling so that they can support you. But we all know that that's easier said than done. Sometimes the last thing you want to do is talk about how you're feeling - sometimes you just want some support without having to discuss your innermost thoughts. And that means that sometimes, the people around you don't notice that you're not in a great place.
This post is going to take you through a few different ways that you might spot someone in your circle who is having a tough time, and what you can do to help. It's by no means an exhaustive list, but it's a start. I also want to make it clear that my personal stance, for what it's worth, is that we should be doing far more to appropriately resource existing mental health services - talking about your difficulties only works when there's someone to talk to, and ideally that person should be qualified to help. But we all need a little bit of support now and then, and this post is a small start.
If you've got a friend who is starting to struggle with their mental health, these are the kinds of things you should be looking out for. Bear in mind that this is written for people who haven't had much contact with mental health services or people who are struggling (I know, there are people out there, trust me!), so it might sound a bit basic to some of you. That's okay - we all had to start somewhere:
So what can you do if you've noticed that someone is struggling? These are a few ideas based on what works for me, and what I know has worked for other people:
Do you have any tips for identifying people who are struggling, or what's worked for you before? Let me know in the comments.
Dr Sarah Blackshaw: Clinical Psychologist, blogger, tea drinker, interested in dinosaurs and shiny objects