Every year, 1 in 5 people within Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness. Even if you are not directly affected, someone you care for is likely to be. Despite the scale of the issue, we still struggle to talk openly about mental health or know how to support those who live with mental health problems.
It’s undeniable that we need to get better at supporting, and talking about mental health. So, let’s start conversations, and educate ourselves on how we can better support those living with mental health problems.
If you have a friend or family member that lives with mental health issues, here are a few things you can do to support them:
Notice when something is wrong
Friends and family are often the first to notice when something is not quite right. If you notice a loved one showing signs of a mental health problem, don’t ignore it! Getting help early is very important.
Do your research
Find out as much as you can about the illness that your loved one is living with. Local mental health associations are a great resource. Within Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Here to Help provide a wealth of information. Here to Help have a great Ask Us section, with answers to the most frequently asked questions about mental health.
Don’t be afraid to start conversations about mental health. Ask what helps, and what doesn’t. Even if they aren’t sure, asking questions shows a desire to help and that you are there for them. When the topic of mental health comes up, be responsive and don’t shy away from the discussion.
Provide emotional support
Make sure they know you are there for them, and do your best to provide consistent emotional support and be understanding.