Do you know how to help someone who is experiencing a mental health issue?
I’m completely in favour of encouraging people to reach out and ask for help with their mental health. Just as important is teaching you what to do if someone reaches out to you.
The first thing to know is that you don’t have to resolve the issues.
Here’re a few pointers to help you navigate a mental health first aid conversation:
Try to find a quiet place to talk, somewhere where you won’t be interrupted
Listen to understand what is being said, without judging and without interrupting – this helps to build rapport and create trust
keep the conversation about the person and don’t make the conversation about you i.e., ‘I know how you feel, that happened to me when…’
ask for clarification and check your understanding of what’s been said
focus on their thoughts and how they feel
reassure the person that it is ok to feel upset, overwhelmed etc
ask the person if they’d like to explore options for support e.g., GP, professional therapist
check out www.hubofhope.co.uk for local and national support
Respect confidentiality unless…
If you suspect that the person is in danger of harming themselves, seek immediate help from a medical professional.