As a friend, family member or professional, you are one of the key sources of support, advice and understanding for someone who is experiencing emotional difficulties. The support you can offer is one of the most important ways people can better manage, improve and maintain their health and wellbeing.
Relationships and connections are a basic and core need for all of us, but for someone who is struggling, they are vital. The power of sharing thoughts and feelings with someone who cares is a proven way of tackling the challenges in our lives.
What are the signs that someone needs support?
When you’re close to someone, changes in their emotional state can be easy to miss. No matter how close we think we are to someone, sometimes they won’t reveal all their thoughts and feelings, especially if they are having dark thoughts fuelled by anger or frustration. You can’t always notice when someone needs help, but you can learn to recognise some of the common signs that someone needs to talk about their feelings, and learn ways that you can help.
While the symptoms of someone who’s struggling vary, the following points are some of the most common things you may notice:
How you can help
As a trusted support, it’s important that you give the person the time and opportunity to discuss their thoughts and feelings. Try to make yourself available to talk when they need it.
Time, patience, care and encouragement is a vital part of helping someone. Spending time with your loved one lets them know you care, and can help you understand what they’re going through.
If you’re aware of an existing problem or your loved one already has an identified condition like depression or anxiety, learn as much as you can about the illness and its treatment, and think about how you can help. There’s a lot of information online, but some of it cannot be trusted. Find trusted and reputable sources of information.
When it comes time to talk:
Encourage them to talk to a professional. Make it clear that seeking help is normal and healthy. If they don’t want to see someone face to face, you can help them identify other support options, like online support, that are less confronting to them.
If they are having suicidal thoughts or thinking of hurting others, take these feelings seriously and discuss them with a health professional immediately.
If you need advice on how best to help someone you care about, call our Step Together helpline workers on 1800 875 204, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.