5 Ways to Help a Friend Experiencing Mental Health Challenges

Sometimes people go through things in their lives that negatively impact their mental health and cause them to experience tough times. When a friend or someone we are close to is going through a challenging time with their mental health, here are some things you can do to show your support. 

  1. Make Yourself Known As An Ally During Difficult Times

If you notice someone is experiencing a mental health challenge, make sure they know that you are in their corner and want to actively help them. Telling them that you are there for them almost always makes people feel better to know that they have a support system. You can also express your support by consistently showing up for them and proving you are listening either through verbal confirmation or doing things that reflect the conversation. 

  1. Be Willing To Listen

It might be an immediate instinct to offer advice or make comments, however that might not always be useful or supportive. Oftentimes more than anything people just want to be heard and being an active listener can help make the person feel seen and understood. Asking the question “Do you want to vent or do you want to come up with a solution to the problem?” can help clarify your role as a support person and ensure you are helping in the most effective way possible.

  1. Let Them Know Resources And Be Aware Of Them Yourself

Some mental health challenges can be deescalated with simple conversation but sometimes a person may need more support. Knowing good mental health resources to share can be really beneficial. Recommending things like clinics, therapists, hotlines, or even websites can really help someone in a crisis. Several great resources to start with are:

The Jewish Board, HereNow’s parent organization offers a wide array of counseling services with a range of payment and insurance options. 

JFCS Pittsburgh’s UpStreet, is a teen mental health service that offers free virtual counseling to anyone from ages 12-22. Click here to learn more and access their web chat platform.

The National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides access to trained professionals who can support in times of emotional distress or suicidal crisis. Call or text 988.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), offers mental illness support and referrals between the hours of 10am and 10pm EST Mon-Fri. Call them at 1-800-950-NAMI; text “HelpLine” to 62640; or email anytime at helpline@nami.org.

  1. Be Respectful 

Put yourself in this person’s shoes. what would you like to have someone do if you were the one in their position? Be kind and non-judgemental and treat this person with the same respect you would hope to be treated with if someone was trying to help you through a mental health challenge.

  1. Set Boundaries 

While it is an incredible thing to be able to help a loved one in need it is also important to remember that you are not a licensed therapist or a trained mental health professional. You are helping this person but their burden is not yours to carry. It is important to establish a limit where your help is no longer enough and a professional or another form of support might need to step in instead. If you are not taking care of yourself as well, it makes it harder to help others.

Great job for being such a great friend and taking care of the people around you! It is truly a mitzvah and something to be proud of. Keep the above in mind for any time you notice a loved one struggling and make sure you take care of yourself while taking care of others to create a healthy balance.

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