If you found your way to this blog post…I just want to say thank you. Thank you for wanting to help those in your life that are struggling. It can feel like a helpless place to be, but I hope these few tips can assist you as you walk alongside your loved ones.
Listen. Be present. Watch this video from Brene Brown about empathy. There is so much power in just being available and present. Sometimes all you need to do is be. Sit with them, no distractions (yes, put away the phone!) and simply be there for them. If they want to talk, let them talk. Don’t compare your situation to them or act like you understand - because ultimately everyone’s journey with mental health is unique. Comparing can undermine the pain they are experiencing. If they don’t want to talk, just sit with them. Your presence will remind them that they are not alone.
Don’t say “I’m here for you”. You might be thinking - wait, I thought that’s what I’m supposed to do? Instead of saying you’ll be there for them….BE there for them. “Be” is a verb! Show up. Take initiative. An example is texting them something like this: “What would be best for you right now? A) Dropping off groceries B) Coming over and watching a movie together C) Picking you up and taking you on a drive to get out of the house D) Sitting with you and talking”. When someone is struggling with their mental health it can be hard to take initiative to ask for help, or even think of how they need help. With a text like this all they would need to respond is “C” which takes minimal effort on their end.
Educate yourself! There are so many amazing resources available to help bring awareness to mental health conditions. There’s even a resource page right here on our website! Having the knowledge of what your loved one is experiencing is a powerful tool as you walk alongside them. If they have anxiety, checkout some books from your local library that cover the topic of anxiety. Ask those in your life that live openly with their anxiety what it’s like. Knowledge is power, people!
Remind them of the love you have for them, despite how they are feeling at the moment. At times, mental illnesses can make someone feel unloveable. They don’t feel like their true selves. Let them know how amazing they are, even if they don’t feel great at the moment! Remind them that their success, performance, output, etc. is not why you love them – it’s because of who they are at their core.
- Be patient. Mental health is a journey. There are waves of good, bad, and everything in between. Be a constant for your loved one in the midst of uncertainty.
I know these tips don’t solve everything – but I’m hopeful they will assist you as you continue walking alongside those you hold most dear. On behalf of your loved ones – thank you, thank you, thank you.
Rachel is the founder of Mend Lip Balm and lives in Fort Worth, TX. As a mental health advocate, she finds a lot of joy in educating those around her about resources available to them. In her free time she loves to read, attend her adult swim league practices, and go to concerts.