Five day-to-day tips to help when someone you love is struggling with their mental health
Don’t use the word “Why” when talking to them. The “why” word can sound very judgemental and accusing – e.g. “Why are you doing this?” However…:
Asking someone to explain their behaviour when they are agitated may not be the best time.
Chances are they are outside of their “baseline behaviour” (their “green zone”). For example, if they are normally fairly quiet and softly spoken and you notice that they are looking agitated, maybe raising their voice or tapping their fingers, their behaviour might have gone into their “red zone”.
It can be more effective just to let them know that you here to listen when they are ready. Once they have moved back into their “green zone” you can begin to ask them how they feel and get that conversation going. This could be a good time to suggest making a plan for if the same situation occurs again – the person can tell you what they would or would not like you to do for them. However…:
You cannot always make the person feel better in that moment.
This can be hard to accept when you care for them so much and you might feel guilty that you cannot help. However…
Be patient, be understanding and kind but be safe.
It might diffuse the situation if you walk away and you will need to judge how far away you go and for how long. If you are worried about your safety or theirs, phone 999. However …
Remember, you too may need support when someone you care about struggles with their mental health.
It can be easy to feel judged and to feel like a failure yourself. You might tell yourself that you have not been a “good” mum, partner etc. You may feel guilty for thinking that you do not always “like” that person even though you love and care for them with all your heart. Be kind to yourself and seek out support from others – those who have been through similar experiences can be a great comfort. Lived experience is an invaluable resource.
Reaching out for support can be difficult for you too but essential to “top up” your emotional and physical reserves for when your loved one is ready to talk.
Emergency Services – 999
Doncaster Samaritans – 01302 327474
Doncaster MIND – 01302 812190
If you are interested in joining me in a support group in Doncaster for relatives/loved ones please contact – firstname.lastname@example.org