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Understanding Stigma and its Effects


Learning objectives

  •  Learn how to help people with their mental health


You are not an expert, but it is important to care about your friends and the community around you. You can do this by asking people how they are feeling, pay attention to their response and ask how they would like to be supported. 

Avoid intrusive questions, treat everyone fairly and make yourself available just to listen. Empathise with them, listen and seek understanding of what they are going through but don’t feel pressured to find them answers.  

For example, if someone wants to speak to you about their mental health, ask them to tell you how they are feeling, appreciate that it is extremely difficult for them to speak about what they are going through and reassure them that it is positive that they want to talk about what they are going through. 

A good way to wrap up the conversation is to provide them with the details of their local ‘Mind’ so help signpost her to sources of support instead of you telling them what you think is best. This way they know they are getting the best support possible but they also know you are there for them and they can talk to you about their issues.

The support that family and friends can give play a very important role for someone recovering from depression. Here are some more ways how you can help:

How to help someone struggling with depression

You can support people that you suspect are suffering from depression by encouraging people to start small and build up their energy levels, small amounts of physical activity has been proven to be extremely effective. Listening to them and just talking to them can help them talk through their issues and knowing that they have someone they can talk to is a huge step for anyone.

  • Support them to get help in their own time. Don’t force anyone to get help if they don’t want it, but reassure them it’s okay to ask for help if they need it and that there are plenty of people that want to help them.

  • Be open about depression. Lots of people find it very difficult to open up about how they’re feeling. If you are open about depression, your friends or family knows that it’s okay to talk about whatever they’re going through.

  • Try and keep in touch. It can be hard for your friend or family member to have the energy to keep in touch. Even just a short text message or phone call, it will let them know that you are thinking of them and to them it can mean the world and make a big difference to how they feel. 

  • Don’t be critical. If you put the blame on them, or too much pressure, it can make things much worse. Even if you may struggle to understand why they can’t just snap out of it, the person that you are helping is probably being very critical and harsh towards themselves already.