5 Ways to Offer Support to Someone with Mental Health Concerns

It can be tough to figure out how to help someone who may have mental health issues. Your first instinct may be to offer advice or solutions, and they may reject you. Perhaps you feel like you have the answers they need and they just won’t listen to you. But the problem is that you can’t always know the exact nature of someone’s mental health concerns or what will help. Still, there are some steps you can take to offer support.

Therapy | BetterHelp

1. Discuss Therapy Options


Sometimes, mental health concerns can be a simple matter of a slight chemical imbalance. The person might need more vitamin D or magnesium. Maybe they need more exercise to boost endorphins. Many people are helped by a few shifts in their lifestyles, but others need much more support. Plenty of people make all the lifestyle changes they can and still find themselves feeling anxious or depressed regularly.

In this case, you can broach the subject of therapy with your friend or family member. Remind them that they are not alone; of course you are there for them. But also, therapy can offer a pathway to healing that friends and family don’t have access to. Furthermore, some people with serious concerns may need to consider rehab for mental health. This option can provide a safe space with trained therapists and access to necessary medication.

2. Offer Concrete Support

Many times when we have a family member or friend in trouble, we don’t know what to do or say. So, we end up saying something like, “Let me know if I can help.” It’s a nice gesture, of course, but most often, people will not take you up on that offer. They’re already feeling down, usually about themselves, so they’re unlikely to reach out for help. Offering that kind of vague support can place an even greater burden on someone struggling.

Instead, you can offer concrete support that’s hard to turn down. For parents, you can offer to watch the kids for a few hours to give mom or dad a break. For people struggling with finances, bring over a couple of bags of groceries to help with meal preparation. For a new mom, you can send a housecleaning service over to relieve her of all the extra work. There are many ways you can provide real support that brings relief, even temporarily, from depression or anxiety.

3. Take Walks Together

Exercise does make a difference. Remember that scene from Legally Blonde wherein Elle made the endorphin argument in a murder trial? Essentially, she said that the woman accused had just finished exercising, which meant she was full of endorphins, the “happy” chemical. And happy people don’t kill people. It’s trite and simplistic, but the concept holds. The more you exercise, the more endorphins you get rushing to your brain.

These endorphins can help lift people out of depression and help clear up anxiety. So, if you’ve got someone in your life with mental health concerns, offer to take regular walks with them. Scout out a great local neighborhood or park and plan for weekly nature hikes. Even if your friend or family member doesn’t want to talk, you can be their accountability coach. Showing up for someone in this way can make a real difference.

4. Give a Yoga Gift Certificate

An additional form of exercise that offers not just endorphins but also increased serotonin is yoga. Many times, people end up stressed, anxious, or depressed because they don’t take the time to slow down. Life gets overwhelming and starts spinning out of control. Even going for a walk or run might feel hectic and chaotic, especially with someone else. The person may just need some time to breathe, but they feel like they can’t get it.

The right yoga class can be a great answer to that struggle. It is an opportunity to sit quietly in class and work on stretching and meditating. Yoga has been shown to have tremendously positive effects on stress, anxiety, and depression. It increases endorphins and serotonin, another chemical related to happiness. So, if you’ve got a friend struggling with mental health, give them a gift card for the local yoga studio. And offer to join them!

5. Listen and Don’t Judge

Finally, one of the hardest parts of working through mental health issues is talking to friends and family. Most of the time, you don’t want to hear all the answers everybody seems to have. You just want someone to listen. Humans are really good at talking and not so great at actively listening. Active listening means to hear what the other person has to say without interrupting. Then, you provide feedback that shows you heard them.

Work on this with anyone in your life struggling with mental health and you may notice they are more willing to talk. Also, remember not to pass judgment on their situation. Most people struggling are already hard on themselves about how they got to where they are. They don’t need you running through the ways they could have avoided their current situation. Instead, just try to be present, open-minded, and compassionate.

Different people need different solutions to their mental health concerns, and many people need a multi-pronged approach. As a friend or family member of someone struggling with mental health issues, all you can do is offer support. Listen without judgment, and ask if they want your help. Then, you can provide options for healing, giving as much as you are capable of and as they are willing to accept. You can only ever do your best.

Roberto Brock
the authorRoberto Brock
Snowboarder, traveler, DJ, Swiss design-head and HTML & CSS lover. Doing at the nexus of art and purpose to develop visual solutions that inform and persuade. I'm a designer and this is my work. Introvert. Coffee evangelist. Web buff. Extreme twitter advocate. Avid reader. Troublemaker.