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Supporting someone with a mental health problem during COVID-19

Find out how you can support a friend or family member struggling with their mental health during the pandemic


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news


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The current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation is really tough for everyone, but can be even more difficult for someone who struggles with their mental health. It’s important that we look out for people who might need some extra support and that we are aware of the things we can do to help.

What to do if you are worried about someone's mental health

Here are ways you can support a friend or family member with their mental health

Let them know you are there

When a friend or family member is going through a difficult time, it can be hard to know what to do or how to help. Having someone to talk and open up to is really important for someone who is struggling. You may not be able to see them in person at the moment due to social distancing but you can check in on them over the phone, by video call or by text message. Reassure them you are there if they do need support and remind them of the different ways they can keep in touch with you.

Ask how you can help

Don’t be afraid to ask someone how they are doing and if there is anything you can do to be of help. It can sometimes be difficult for people to approach the topic if they are not feeling themselves so they could really appreciate you starting the conversation for them. Here are a few things that are important to keep in mind when talking to someone about their mental health.

Encourage them to seek professional support

The person you are supporting may have received professional help in the past, face to face. Although many face to face services are not currently open, most services are providing support to people online or over the phone.

Your family member or friend may not be aware of what services are available or how to access them. You can help by explaining the different types of support that they can get. It could be useful to chat about what service they might feel more comfortable using, if they would prefer to talk to someone on a helpline, join a online group chat, use a text service or speak to a counsellor over the phone. Read a list of mental health supports available at the moment here.

Remember to look after yourself

Knowing that someone you care about is struggling can be difficult, and it can take a toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing. Try to take time to yourself, find ways to relax and look after your wellbeing. If you can, share the responsibility of checking in on your friend or family member with other people. Taking care of yourself means you are in a better position to support the person you care about, if and when they need it.

What should I do if I am really concerned about the safety of a friend or family member?

If the person you are supporting is experiencing thoughts of suicide or feels they may act on these thoughts, it’s important that you help them seek professional or medical help as soon as possible. You can accompany them to any hospital Accident and Emergency department and ask for help. If you cannot make your way to a hospital, ring 999 or 112. Stay with them while you wait for emergency services to arrive, or go with them to the hospital for help. It may also help to read our fact sheet on suicide and some tips for how to talk to a friend who is feeling suicidal.

What to do if you need support?

Life has changed for everyone at the moment which can be tough. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed you can use our text service for support.

This situation is completely new to everyone involved and it is normal to feel worried or anxious about what is going on. Following the Government’s instructions on how to stay safe and help slow the spread of the virus, can help to make you feel more in control of your current situation.

If you feel overwhelmed by the current situation and need someone to talk to, our anonymous, 24 hour text line is always open. You're worth talking about and we're here to listen and support you.

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Published April 2nd2020
Last updated Sep­tem­ber 18th2020
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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