Connections & relationships are a crucial part of wellness and living a good life, so it makes sense that they are also a key part of recovery. We all need a support network to learn from and lean on in times of hardship, and for people with mental ill health a solid group of people they can connect with can make a big difference.
I’m worried about a friend/family member. How can I help?
Here are some of the first things you can do to offer support:
- Look out for signs they are not feeling themselves. You might notice your firend or family member doesn’t want to hang out with friends or are always tired and feeling down. If you see these changes, check in with them to see if they’re OK.
- Listen to what they want to say. If they don’t want to talk, respect that. Let them know that what they’re experiencing is OK and that you are there to listen when they want to talk. Express your concern and support, and remind your friend or family member that help is available.
- Get help together. Find out if the person is getting the support they need. If not, encourage and help them to find a support service they are comfortable with. At Richmond Wellbeing, referral forms can be completed by the person accessing the service, a friend, family member or carer, or a service provider.
Educate yourself about mental health and wellbeing. Find out what can contribute to changes in mental health, how people can be supported, and know that people can and do recover. A recent development you should know about is the NDIS, a new scheme that offers funding and customised supports to people with some mental health conditions or physical disabilities that are enduring. The NDIS works with individuals, their families and carers to develop a personalised plan of support services. You can assist your friend or loved one to get the supports they need and live the life they want.
Different support services will suit different people. Look into community services, supporting people to stay well in the community; supported accommodation, giving people the opportunity to focus on their recovery in a supportive and caring environment; and the ‘hearing voices’ approach offered by the Hearing Voices Network of WA, a unique approach to recovery and living well for people who experience voices and other sensory perceptions.
If you think your friend or family member is in danger of harming themselves, we urge you to seek immediate assistance.
Look after yourself. It’s important to take care of yourself, especially when you are supporting someone else. Nobody expects you to be super-human. Carer supports and respite services can give you some time out to relax, look after yourself and live your own life.
Share your knowledge with others in your social circle and community to help people in similar situations and stop stigma and discrimination around mental ill health. Consider a training course to learn from industry experts about creating environments for positive wellbeing and supporting someone with mental health challenges.