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A guide to taking the first steps, making empowered decisions and getting the right support for you. View this information as a PDF new window. Order this information as a print booklet. Many people experiencing a mental health problem will speak to friends and family before they speak to a health professional, so the support you offer can be really valuable. This covers:. If you regularly support someone with a mental health problem you might be considered a carer. See our on how to cope when supporting someone else for more information.
If someone lets you know that they are experiencing difficult thoughts and feelings, it's common to feel like you don't know what to do or say — but you don't need any special training to show someone you care about them. Often just being there for someone and doing small things can be really valuable. For example:. Without him my recovery time would have been much longer. There are lots of practical things you can do to support someone who is ready to seek help. If you feel that someone you care about is clearly struggling but can't or won't reach out for help, and won't accept any help you offer, it's understandable to feel frustrated, distressed and powerless.
But it's important to accept that they are an individual, and that there are always limits to what you can do to support another person. Lucy from Mind's information team answers one of the hardest questions we get on our helpline, 'Can you make someone get help? If someone is experiencing reality in a very different way from people around them, they may not realise or agree that seeking help could be useful for them.
They may be experiencing psychosis , mania , hearing voices or feeling very paranoid. In this case, it can also be helpful to:. There are a lot of misunderstandings about what it means to experience psychosis. Lots of people wrongly think that the word 'psychotic' means 'dangerous'. But it's important to remember that in reality, very few people who experience psychosis ever hurt anyone else. See our on stigma and misconceptions for more information. There may be times when your friend or family member needs to seek help more urgently, such as if they:. Stay with them and help them call for an ambulance, if you feel able to do so.
They may appreciate it if you can wait with them until they can see a doctor. Or you could help them make an emergency GP appointment to see a doctor soon. You can also encourage them to call Samaritans on to talk to someone, 24 hours a day.
Or you could suggest they try another helpline or listening service. It may also help to remove things they could use to harm themselves, especially if they have mentioned specific things they might use. You can call and ask for the police to help. You might feel worried about getting someone in trouble, but it's important to put your own safety first. If you're not in a situation like this right now, but you're worried someone you care about may experience a mental health crisis in the future, it's a good idea to make a crisis plan with them to work out what steps you will take to help them in an emergency.
See our on planning for a crisis for more information. In exceptional circumstances it's possible to keep a person in hospital under a section of the Mental Health Act often called being sectioned , and treat them without their agreement. The decision to section someone is very serious, and can only be taken by a team of approved mental health professionals AMHPs. If you feel someone is at serious, immediate risk and will not approach anyone for help, you can contact their local social services, who can decide to arrange an assessment you can usually find the for social services on the local council's website.
This is a heavy responsibility, so before taking action it's important that you understand what might happen, and what your loved one's rights are. It might also be a good idea to talk this through with someone you trust. See our legal s on sectioning and agreeing to treatment for more information.
Supporting someone else can be challenging. Making sure that you look after your own wellbeing can mean that you have the energy, time and distance to help someone else. For more ideas about how to keep yourself well, see our s on coping when supporting someone else , improving and maintaining your wellbeing , and managing stress. Need more support with this issue? Our helplines are here for you. Need the references and evidence sheet for this ? Contact our publishing team. Want to reproduce content from this ? See our on permissions and licensing. Coronavirus: Find our information and support and more on our work.
Seeking help for a mental health problem A guide to taking the first steps, making empowered decisions and getting the right support for you. Toggle Seeking help for a mental health problem. How can I help someone else seek help? This covers: What emotional support can I offer? What practical support can I offer? What can I do if someone doesn't want my help?
What if they believe things that seem very unusual or scary to me? What can I do if it's an emergency? How can I look after myself? What emotional support can I offer? For example: Listen. Simply giving someone space to talk, and listening to how they're feeling, can be really helpful in itself.
If they're finding it difficult, let them know that you're there when they are ready. Offer reassurance. Seeking help can feel lonely, and sometimes scary. You can reassure someone by letting them know that they are not alone, and that you will be there to help. Stay calm. Even though it might be upsetting to hear that someone you care about is distressed, try to stay calm. This will help your friend or family member feel calmer too, and show them that they can talk to you openly without upsetting you.
Be patient. You might want to know more details about their thoughts and feelings, or want them to get help immediately. But it's important to let them set the pace for seeking support themselves. Try not to make assumptions. Your perspective might be useful to your friend or family member, but try not to assume that you already know what may have caused their feelings, or what will help.
Keep social contact. Part of the emotional support you offer could be to keep things as normal as possible. This could include involving your friend or family member in social events, or chatting about other parts of your lives. For example: Look for information that might be helpful. When someone is seeking help they may feel worried about making the right choice, or feel that they have no control over their situation.
Our on making yourself heard will give you some ideas on what research you can do, and ways you can help someone think about what might work for them. Help to write down lists of questions that the person you're supporting wants to ask their doctor, or help to put points into an order that makes sense for example, most important point first. Help to organise paperwork , for example making sure that your friend or family member has somewhere safe to keep their notes, prescriptions and records of appointments.
Go to appointments with them , if they want you to — even just being there in the waiting room can help someone feel reassured. Ask them if there are any specific practical tasks you could help with , and work on those. For example, this could include: offering them a lift somewhere arranging childcare for them taking over a chore or household task. Learn more about the problem they experience , to help you think about other ways you could support them. Our website provides lots of information about different types of mental health problems , including s on what friends and family can do to help in each case.
You can: Be patient. You won't always know the full story, and there may be reasons why they are finding it difficult to ask for help. Offer emotional support and reassurance. Let them know you care about them and you'll be there if they change their mind. Inform them how to seek help when they're ready for example, you could show them our s on talking to your GP and what might happen at the appointment.
Look after yourself , and make sure you don't become unwell yourself. You can't: Force someone to talk to you. It can take time for someone to feel able to talk openly, and putting pressure on them to talk might make them feel less comfortable telling you about their experiences.
Force someone to get help if they're over 18, and it's not an emergency situation. As adults, we are all ultimately responsible for making our own decisions. This includes when — or if — we choose to seek help when we feel unwell. See a doctor for someone else. A doctor might give you general information about symptoms or diagnoses, but they won't be able to share any specific advice or details about someone else without their agreement.
Can you make someone get help with their mental health? In this case, it can also be helpful to: Focus on how their beliefs are making them feel for example anxious, scared, threatened or confused , as these feelings will be very real. Avoid confirming or denying their beliefs. Instead it can help to say something like "I understand that you see things that way, but it's not like that for me. There may be times when your friend or family member needs to seek help more urgently, such as if they: have harmed themselves and need medical attention are having suicidal feelings , and feel they may act on them are putting themselves or someone else at immediate, serious risk of harm.
If they are not safe by themselves right now Stay with them and help them call for an ambulance, if you feel able to do so. If you or others feel in danger right now You can call and ask for the police to help. How does someone get sectioned? For example: Take a break when you need it. If you're feeling overwhelmed by supporting someone or it's taking up a lot of time or energy, taking some time for yourself can help you feel refreshed.
Talk to someone you trust about how you're feeling. You may want to be careful about how much information you share about the person you're supporting, but talking about your own feelings to a friend can help you feel supported too. Set boundaries and be realistic about what you can do. Your support is really valuable, but it's up to your friend or family member to seek support for themselves.
Remember that small, simple things can help, and that just being there for them is probably helping a lot. Share your caring role with others, if you can. It's often easier to support someone if you're not doing it alone. Was this useful? Yes No Tell us more Tell us more. Tell us more Why did you visit this ? What do you want to tell us about?
Praise — things we do well Criticism — things we could do better Errors, mistakes or broken links What do you want to tell us about? Please give us your feedback: Please give us your feedback:. If you want a response from us, see our . If you are in crisis right now and want to talk to someone urgently then you could call Samaritans on freephone.Seeking for that special someone
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Seeking help for a mental health problem