There are many ways to help a friend or family member who is experiencing mental health challenges. Don’t be afraid to Speak Up and start the conversation. Step Up by following these simple steps:
Once you’ve opened the door, Listen Up and ask questions.
- Read Up on warning signs for suicide and symptoms of mental illness.
- Speak Up and talk openly with your friend or family member about what they are experiencing.
- Link Up with local resources. Offer to get help together.
- Follow Up and offer continued support.
IT'S UP TO US
Just one person reaching out can make a difference. Here are some more specific ideas:
- Reassure your friend or family member that they are not alone, that you care and will continue to provide support.
- Encourage them to talk openly about how they’re feeling and listen carefully. Instead of telling the person what you think they should do, share what has worked for you or offer a resource to learn about what has worked for others.
- If a person shares their diagnosis with you, learning more about it to understand what the person might be experiencing, what you might expect to see as a friend or loved one and how to best provide support may be helpful to you both.
- Stay in touch through regular phone calls and visits to help decrease feelings of isolation.
- Invite them to dinner, movies, sporting events and other activities. Even if you get a refusal at first, continue to issue invitations periodically.
- Offer to run errands, cook meals, take children to activities or provide other assistance.
- Include your friend or family member in your plans for activities that you know they have enjoyed in the past. Spend time together doing hobbies or playing sports.
- Encourage exercise by offering to go for a walk together or engage in some other type of physical activity you know they enjoy.
- Cook healthy meals together at your home or theirs, or offer to bring over a healthy meal on occasion..
- Talk about the future. People who are experiencing a mental illness may have feelings of hopelessness and have trouble seeing beyond their current state.
- Be patient and don’t push for too much too soon. Understand that they have a legitimate medical condition and that recovery takes time.
- Point out small signs of progress, such as saying, “I see you’re working in your garden again.”
- Offer to go to medical appointments to provide support.
- Don’t ignore or dismiss remarks about suicide.
- Take immediate action if a friend or family member appears to be in crisis, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 for help 7 days a week, 24 hours a day or one of the Los Angeles County suicide hotlines.