Health

How to help your friend through mental health issues

We never question the need for help when we ourselves or our friends and family are allected with any physical ailment. On the contrary, when someone around us is undergoing obvious physical pain and still not seeking help, we tend to reprimand them, coax them, or talk to them about the importance of physical wellbeing.

Yet it can also happen that our response to mental health issues is not as impressive. Either our lack of knowledge about the broad mental health spectrum causes us to not recognize the symptoms of the poor state of our friend, or simply, we are not sure about how to help them.

Even though greater awareness is being created about the importance of mental health, it still carries that aura of being taboo. Then, there is the matter of fragility of mental health diseases, and the consequent uncertainty as to how to help them.

And while yes, you cannot be a substitute for professional help dispensed by Psychiatrist in Lahore, but that does not mean you cannot help your friend during their battle with mental health issues. In fact, when they know they are loved and supported, their chances of making recovery sooner rank higher.

Following are some of the tips that you can do to help your friend through their mental health problems:

Talk to them

Talking to your friend might be a daunting task for you. Obviously, there is this fear of overstepping or saying the wrong thing. But not talking to them can have much worse outcomes. The ideal way to go about it by talking to the friend, but being careful about what you say to them, lest it gets misconstrued.

The idea you want to communicate to your friend is that you are there for them, through this emotional turmoil that they are enduring.

You can talk about the mundane, as some people derive comfort from the everyday, as it helps them normalize their life. Others, prefer a more private and raw communication. You should equip yourself to provide both to your friend.

Signal your friend that you are there to hear them and their troubles out, without any judgement. As talking can be cathartic experience, you can help your friend unload their emotional baggage.

Provide them with unconditional support

Many people suffering from mental health issues cannot come forward from the fear of censure and judgement. It thus prevents people from sharing their inner turmoil, and thus this baggage keeps holding them, and their health down.

To help your friend through the trying time, offer them unconditional support. This allows them to confide their experiences, knowing, that they will not be judged.

To do this, try setting time aside for them, without any distractions, so that your friend knows that you are truly vested in helping them. However, refrain from offering opinions that might further the mental anguish in your friend.

Spend time with them

Loneliness can perpetuate and cause mental health issues. It is therefore vital to spend quality time with your friends. They might not explicitly call you for socializing, but you should not let it be a deterrent. Physical contact is ideal, but if not, make it a point to at least video call them.

Encourage them during these sessions to go out with other friends and family. The warmth of human contact should never be underestimated.

Do not invalidate their feelings

People having mental health problems have a very precarious mental state already. Anything that disturbs this balance for the worse further draws them into further abyss. Also, as one is enveloped by blues, judgement is last thing they need.

Therefore, when you talk to them, do not invalidate their feelings. Do not offer insights into what is right or wrong, or what your friend is feeling is not correct because of your own bias. This can aggravate the condition of the person, especially since you are not a trained counsellor, and your friend was talking to not get invalidation, but solace.

Try doing activities they enjoy

Many a times, people who are facing mental turmoil tend to whittle their days in bed. They simply do not have energy to continue with their daily lives, and that’s not a simple matter of will. Impaired psychological health also has a dire impact on the physical health.

Thus, the onus is on you to help your friend recover from the wallowing. Do activities that they love, be a stimulus for their action. They might be reluctant at first, but surely, this reprieve will aid in their recovery.

The activities do not have to be ground shaking; anything that your friend likes should be on the agenda. It can be a stroll through the park, a board game, watching a movie or a drive through your favorite take-away place.

Respect their distance

While it is important to comfort your friend through their ailment, however, it does not mean that they be overwhelmed. Respect the distance that they put up, ss being ‘helicopter-friend’ can actually aggravate their state.

Make sure that all information that they choose to share is not because of pestering or coercion, but because they trust you as a friend. So, if your friend is not comfortable with divulging their thoughts to you, let them be. Rather than taking offense, relay to your friend that you are there for them and will be there to them when they choose to share.

Encourage gaining professional help

Mental health is a complex domain. No matter how pure your intentions are for helping your friend, you cannot replace professional help. A certified counsellor, a therapist or psychologist has the right training to treat your friend. Thus, be sure to encourage them to enlist the help of the best Psychiatrist in Karachi.

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