How to Help Someone with Mental Health Issues

It’s always hard to watch someone struggling. It’s even harder to know what to do. Below are some tips to help someone struggling with Mental Illness and Suicidal thoughts.

What to DO:children with umbrella dark clouds

  • Keep in touch, do reach out to them. Text them, call them, drop by for a visit. Let them know you’re thinking of them.
  • Bring them something to eat, take them out for ice cream, or invite them over to dinner.  Often those who are struggling neglect simple things like eating and drinking water. We need nourishment to help our bodies and brains stay healthy.
  • Sit with them, listen to them, be with them,  talk with them. Suicide can be a lonely thought. Having someone with you can be a step towards asking for help.
  • Have them join you in an activityーwatch a movie, play a boardgames, do some art, run some errands, go for a walk; keep it simple”
  • Talk to a trusted adult about your concern for the individual.
  • Ask directly if they want to kill themselves or if they want to commit suicide. It is a myth that saying this will increase the chances of the person completing suicide.
  • Ask if they have a plan . If they state that they will kill themselves (different than “I want to die”), that’s when you need to call 911
  • Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. It’s not just for suicidal people, anyone can call for resources or help.
  • Call or text Youthline 877-969-8491 or text “teen2teen” to 839863high school students at sunrise

What NOT to do:

  • Make them list things they’re grateful for. That indirectly sends the message of shame and that their feelings are not real
  • Force them into some type of activity. If they want to talkーlisten.  
  • Bring up too much religion. You can ask if they practice religion and if they want to talk about that but don’t impose your beliefs onto the person
  • Shame them for having suicidal thoughts. They’re not exactly something they decided they wanted to think about, nor did they “invite” them with something they did. Acknowledge the person is having those thoughts and talk about them.
  • In the end, just be a friend.

If you want more information, check out this page of resources from Well Being Trust.