Be mental health aware: find out more about mental ill health, how to help someone who is in crisis and ways to proactively support mental wellbeing
A-Z of mental health
The charity Mind has compiled a helpful guide to mental health, covering information about specific conditions, treatments and therapies, guidance on communicating with statutory services, the benefits system, dealing with discrimination, learning disability support, food and mood, support for parents and more.
Choosing the right mental health support
It can be challenging to understand the wide range of services and approaches available to support mental health; some of which will be available on the NHS and some which will only be available privately (but may be provided on a low cost basis). If you’d like to find out more about different counselling options, therapists and practitioners providing different types of mental health support, you may want to view this helpful guide from Sanctus, which includes helpful sections on ‘Definitions’ and ‘How To Find A Counsellor & Therapist’.
How to help someone else to seek support
If you are worried about someone else’s mental health, it’s important to talk to them, and help them to reach out for support if they are struggling. The Mental Health Foundation has put together eight top tips for talking about mental health with someone else, as well as information on what to do if someone is in crisis.
Eight tips for talking about mental health
- Set time aside with no distractions. It is important to provide an open and non-judgemental space with no distractions.
- Let the person share as much or as little as they want to. Let them lead the discussion at their own pace. Don’t put pressure on them to tell you anything they aren’t ready to talk about. Opening up can take a lot of trust and courage. You might be the first person they have been able to talk to about what they’re going through.
- Don’t try to diagnose or second guess someone’s feelings. While you may be happy to offer support, try not to make assumptions about what is wrong or jump in too quickly with your own diagnosis or solutions.
- Keep questions open ended. Say “Are you able to tell me how you are feeling?” rather than “I can see you are feeling very low”. Try to keep your language neutral. Give the person time to answer and try not to ask too many questions.
- Talk about wellbeing. Talk about ways of de-stressing or practising self-care and ask if the person finds particular approaches helpful. Exercising, eating a balanced diet and getting a good night’s sleep can help to protect mental health and sustain wellbeing.
- Listen carefully to what someone tells you. Repeat what they have said back to them to ensure you have understood it. You don’t have to agree with what they are saying, but by showing you understand how they feel, you are letting them know you respect their feelings.
- Offer the person help in seeking professional support and provide information on ways to do this. You might want to offer to go the GP with them, or help them talk to a friend or family member. Try not to take control and allow them to make their own decisions.
- Know your limits. If you believe someone is in immediate danger or they have injuries that need medical attention, you need to take action to make sure they are safe. More details on dealing in a crisis can be found below.
How to help someone in crisis
There are some general strategies that you can use to help:
- Listen without making judgements and concentrate on the person’s needs in that moment.
- Ask them what would help them.
- Reassure and signpost to practical information or resources.
- Avoid confrontation.
- Ask if there is someone they would like you to contact.
- Encourage them to seek appropriate professional help.
- If they have hurt themselves, make sure they get the first aid they need.
Seeing, hearing or believing things that no-one else does can be the symptom of a mental health problem. It can be frightening and upsetting. Gently remind the person who you are and why you are there. Don’t reinforce or dismiss their experiences, but acknowledge how the symptoms are making them feel.
How to respond if someone is suicidal
If someone tells you they are feeling suicidal or can’t go on, it is very important to encourage them to get help. You or they should contact a GP or NHS 111. They can also contact the Samaritans straight away by calling 116 123 (UK) for free at any time. They could also get help from friends, family or mental health services.
You can ask how they are feeling and let them know that you are available to listen. Talking can be a great help to someone who is feeling suicidal, but it may be distressing for you. It is important for you to talk to someone about your own feelings and the Samaritans can help you too.
If the person is planning to take their own life, encourage them to call 999 or go to A&E and ask for contact details for the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress. In Glastonbury, there is also a Crisis Safe Space available every Friday evening (6pm – 11pm) provided by Open Mental Health to anyone over 18 who is experiencing a crisis. To access the Crisis Safe Space, call 01823 276892