Ask a Counsellor: I’m worried about my friend’s mental health. What do I do?


Talking about mental health can be anxiety-provoking,
especially when talking about someone else’s mental health. You feel that you don’t know
what to say or how to say it, when you can see someone else is miserable, upset or just
not themselves. And that’s what I want to help you with in this video. The first step
is to take them somewhere private and comfortable. Because if they’re not comfortable then they’re
not going to want to talk about their delicate, hard to talk about subjects with you. You’re
being let into their world to a part of their life which they’ve never told anyone. So make
sure that they feel as settled as possible. Secondly, is to be patient. They’re going
to be talking about issues with you that they may have never told anyone else before. They
might feel ashamed, they might feel embarrassed, they might feel angry. All these hard to deal
with emotions on top of whatever it is they are going through means that they might not
go at the pace which suits you and in fact you need to make sure that they are going
at the pace that suits them. Thirdly if they decide to discuss their issues with you make
sure that you listen to them. You’re empathetic and you don’t judge them. Or belittle them.
For doing or thinking or feeling whatever it is that they’re going through in that moment.
You need to be supportive because remember this is a delicate subject for them. And if
they feel rejected by you, they may never open up to anyone else. It’s a lot of responsibility
but it’s a responsibility which you’ve been entrusted with. Next you need to prepare yourself.
Because in talking with a friend about their issues they might get upset they might get
dismissive or even be angry that you’re trying to talk to them about something that quite
frankly they don’t want to talk about. Essentially you’re trying to clean an open wound. If you’re
doing it physically, they flinch every time you dabbed it with a cloth. And in the same
way when you talk to them about their emotional wound, they’re going to flinch. They’re going
to try to push you away. So be prepared for them to do that. And don’t take it personally.
Lastly you need to look after yourself. You’re a really good person for trying to help your
friend through whatever troubles they are going through. But that doesn’t mean that
you need to endanger yourself emotionally, physically, or mentally. Just because you’re
there for them doesn’t mean that you need to put your safety at risk or do anything
that goes against your moral code. I hope this video has given you the confidence to
help someone should they need your support. And if you’ve got any questions you want me
to answer, please do send me an email and I’ll answer your question in a future video.
Take care. Bye bye.

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