I’m worried about your mental health

How to approach someone you think should seek help

According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 1 in 5 people experience a mental health problem in any given year and this has increased dramatically due to the pandemic. This means that you likely know people who are struggling with a mental health issue right now. Some will recognize they have a problem and seek help on their own, but others might not. What can you do if you think a friend or loved one is struggling with a mental health issue?

Address the issue and provide emotional support

Do not be afraid to tell your loved one that you are worried about them. Ask them if they want to talk. Provide emotional support as you address their mental health, and keep an open mind. Tell them that you are there to listen without judging what they have to say. Being judgmental may make your loved one feel they are abnormal and can deter them from seeking help. Also, make it clear that you are expressing your concern and not trying to “fix” them. Do not try to diagnose them and make decisions on their behalf. Addressing your concerns and listening with empathy and an open mind is a significant first step.

Encourage them to seek professional help

Once you’ve addressed your concerns with your loved one, encourage them to seek professional help. Even though you may suspect your loved one has a mental health problem, do not play the role of a mental health professional yourself. Although you may know a lot about your loved one and the struggles they are going through, you do not have the same qualifications and skills as a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist. These professionals can provide the most appropriate care for your loved one.

Offer practical support

While you cannot diagnose or treat your loved one, you can provide support in other ways. Offer to help with some of their daily tasks, such as driving them to an appointment or helping them with their groceries. Let them know how important they are to you. Small gestures can make a big difference in your loved one’s daily life.

What if they do not want to seek help?

Your loved one may not be ready to seek help. If this happens, make it known that you are still concerned, but don’t push or nag. They may not see what you see, or they may not be ready, and if you confront them in an accusatory way they may feel threatened and lose trust in you. Until they are prepared to seek help, be supportive and listen to what they need in the present moment. However, if your loved one is a danger to themselves or others, call 911 or find help at amiquebec.org/crisis.

– Gabrielle Lesage

From Share&Care Summer 2021

Visit amiquebec.org/sources for references