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Supporting a Friend with Mental Health Concerns

Support from friends, family and health professionals, plays a significant role in the recovery process of someone experiencing a mental health issue.

International Friendship Day, held on July 30 is a day that provides an opportunity for us all to check in with those around us— especially if you think someone you know might be struggling with their mental health. All it takes is a simple conversation and it could be the one that saves a life. Not sure where to start? Check out our tips below:

What to do when worried about someone you know

It can be hard to know what to do when supporting someone with a mental health concern, condition or disorder. Friends, family and colleagues are important supports for someone going through a difficult time.

So it is important to know what to say and do when you’re worried someone you know may have a mental health issue or might be thinking about suicide.

How do I know if someone needs support?

It’s not always easy to tell if someone has a mental illness. The signs they may have a mental illness include:

  • they are anxious or worried
  • they are depressed or unhappy
  • they have emotional outbursts
  • they have sleep problems
  • they have weight or appetite changes
  • they are quiet or withdrawn
  • they are misusing substances like alcohol or drugs
  • they feel guilty or worthless
  • you notice changes in their behaviour

If someone is showing these signs, it’s important to raise your concerns with them, even though they might deny the problem and be reluctant or refuse to get help.

If you are worried about a family member or close friend:

  • let them know you care and support them
  • treat them with respect and dignity
  • talk with them about their feelings
  • suggest that speaking to someone they feel comfortable with, their GP or other mental health professional, may help them feel better
  • offer assistance (i.e. find someone they trust talking with and make the appointment or arrange the meeting, and if they wish, be with them at the time)

Where to get help

If a friend needs help, talking to a doctor is a good place to start. To find out more, or if they would like to talk to someone else, our team are here to assist you. Additional support organisation that can help include:

  • SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) — call 1800 187 263.
  • Beyond Blue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
  • Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) — online help.
  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) — call 13 11 14 or chat online.