The first thing we at Fearless Femme would like to say on this page is Thank You.

All of us here have been through mental health issues, and we hear the voices of those suffering every day. We know how difficult it is as suffers to feel lost, alone and abandoned; those with mental ill-health do, at times, find themselves isolated and rejected for what they are going through and who they are.

People with the patience, love, and kindness to stand by someone through their emotional and psychological challenges, despite the discomfort, strain, frustration and stress they themselves experience at times, are rare. You – reading this page – are a rare, kind and wonderful person, and we thank you for taking the time out of your day to research into helping someone you care for!

Thank you for extending yourself as a person to help someone; it doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated, and we wish you, and the person or people you are supporting, all the best in your growth.

Providing Support

If you are worried about someone it can be difficult to know what to do, and you may feel unsure about talking to them about your concerns, or how to raise the topic. Whilst addressing the issue may be daunting, unnerving or uncertain, it’s also important to realise that no one ever gets better by keeping quiet and not talking about it. Staying silent about mental health problems is never productive or beneficial for anyone, so it’s important to create dialogue where you recognise someone is going through a hard time and find out what you can do to help.

Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ method when it comes to caring for someone who is struggling with their mental health; every mental health condition needs to be approached differently and every individual has distinct needs and difficulties. However, knowledge is power.

The first step to supporting someone with mental ill-health is to educate yourself about their condition; not knowing about how the mental illness functions can lead to misconceptions, which in turn may lead to (well-meant but) unintentional, counterproductive approaches. Very accessible and easy ways to educate yourself are actually through places like Youtube, personal blogs, and good mental health websites (see our Helpful Links page here).

Hearing personal stories from people who have suffered from the same mental health problems gives you a more personal, less statistical understanding of the issue and helps you realise how broad and diverse the spectrum of experiences are. Knowing more about your person’s mental health condition helps you develop your understanding for how they’re feeling, helps explain their behaviours, and helps you realise why they can’t just “snap out of it”.

Other things you can do include:

  • Showing your support — talk openly with your person to assure them they are not alone, and express your concern and show empathy.
  • Listening — allow your person to share with you as little or as much as they’d like to. Do not change the subject or turn the conversation round to yourself. Resist the temptation to dismiss their concerns or give unsolicited or opinionated advice. If they disclose personal information with you, promise them complete confidentiality (except in cases where suicide is brought up. When suicide is mentioned or implied it is time to tell a professional and get help.) If the information is too overwhelming for you to process afterwards, please contact a helpline like BEAT or The Samaritans and discuss the topic (confidentially) with someone.
  • Asking what you can do to help — this can be expressed an open-ended expression of your desire to help them when and where you can, or you can offer them help with specific tasks.
  • Reassuring them that you care for them — people with mental health problems are usually very worried about losing the people in their lives, and that people will see them differently or like them less. It’s important that you assure them that you love and care for them the exact way you always have and that you see them no differently.
  • Treating them the same way — even if you know your person’s mental ill-health prevents them from being able to do something, demonstrate to them that you still want to include them in your life and don’t go out of your way to exclude them. Still invite them to social gatherings or out for a coffee; even if you suspect they will refuse the offer. People with mental health difficulties already feed like an outsider, so it’s important to to not make them feel even more excluded and subconsciously validate their fears. If they perpetually decline your efforts, please do not take it as a personal rejection; just remember your kind offer probably did far more good for that person than you will ever be able to comprehend.

Self-care

Whilst educating yourself about someone’s mental health challenges, what is perhaps just as important is practicing self-care. Supporting someone with mental ill-health can be exhausting, frustrating, upsetting and emotionally draining, all of which can also have a negative impact on your own health. When you’re worried about someone it can be difficult to remember to care for yourself, particularly if you’re in an environment where you live with that person or they’re close to you.

To be the best support for them and for yourself, it’s vital to look after yourself emotionally, mentally and physically so that you have the energy, clarity and patience to support someone else during a very difficult time. The stronger and healthier you are, the more powerful and useful you are as a support system. You can read more about self-care tips and advice on our About Self-Care page here.