We often avoid discussing mental health because of fear, stigma or simply not knowing what to say. But this may make matters worse. Support from friends, family and health professionals plays a significant role in a loved one’s recovery process. You can make a big difference through small gestures, like listening, keeping in touch and showing you care.
Many of us worry about saying the wrong thing to someone with a mental illness. Your friend or loved one may or may not want to discuss their mental health issues with you, but it’s important they know they don’t have to avoid the subject.
It’s not always easy to tell if someone has a mental illness. It’s important to raise your concerns with them, even though they might deny the problem and be reluctant or refuse to get help. They may react with anger, shame or embarrassment.
If someone you care about is in danger of harming themselves or someone else, call triple zero (000) immediately. There are also a number of helplines and crisis support services that may help.
Last reviewed: December 2016