Written by Kate Pauley
Close connection with others can be a source of immense support and joy. Having people you can go to both as a place to share in the good things and a place to get help is what makes community an invaluable resource.
Some people are particularly skilled to be support people; you know the ones. That first person you think of when you need a sympathetic ear, or someone to make a plan, or just someone to convince you to do the bizarre, exciting thing you can’t do on your own.
If you are one of those people that values being able to show up for others, it can also be hard to know the best way to show support, especially when it comes to mental health. Everyone has their own preferences and needs, and if you’re looking for ways to try and show support while respecting someone’s autonomy, these may be helpful places to start.
- Talk to your person.
Check in with them about what’s going on. Find out how they feel about their mental health, what they think is impacting it, what their resources are, etc. Just taking the step to ask can be a way of showing support.
- Share your experience.
Let your person know what you’re seeing. This can be done in a loving and non-judgmental way with gentle, open ended questions or observations. Let them know you’re there to understand. And if it feels like they can receive it, you can give feedback about things that are catching your attention.
- Do some research.
Find out what kind of mental health resources are in the area. If you have information about your loved one’s preferences for individual therapy, group therapy, male/female therapist, age of therapist, in-person or virtual, etc., that can all be useful to direct your search. Having a variety of options to offer can be helpful if your person does ask for your support.
- Let them know you’re ready when they are.
This one is key. Getting support or seeking change can be very personal and therefore the person seeking change needs to be engaged in the process. You can let them know that you’re always ready to step in with resources, but you won’t force it. Their journey is theirs, and you’re here to support that journey.
- Have your own support.
The saying, “helpers need help too”, is a big one. Remember that seeing a loved one in need and feeling stuck or powerless to change it can be incredibly hard, and you may need your own support to keep holding that space. You may need to process what it’s like to be in the position of a helper.
While this is not an exhaustive list of how to support a loved one’s mental health, it can be helpful to know where to start. Don’t underestimate the power of simply showing that you care by letting someone know that you see them. And trust how well you know your person. You may have insight about ways they feel loved and supported that have nothing to do with this list, and that’s valuable.
If you would like more information about different counseling services or would like to talk to someone about how to show support, take a look at the links below!
For more information on our services, click here: Couples Therapy
For more information on our services, click here: Infidelity Therapy
For more information on our services, click here: Premarital Therapy
For more information on our services, click here: Family Therapy
For more information on our services, click here: Individual Therapy