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Supporting someone with a mental health issue

3-minute read

If someone you know is affected by a mental health issue, getting support from friends and family can make all the difference to their recovery.

If your loved one is showing signs of a mental health problem or reaches out for help, you could offer support by:

  • asking how they are
  • being available to listen
  • acknowledging how they are feeling
  • asking what you can do to help
  • choosing a good time and place to talk, when you are both relaxed
  • being sensitive, positive and encouraging
  • keeping the conversation relaxed and open
  • talking about other topics too - don’t let a mental health issue become the centre of your relationship
  • being informed - read quality, evidence-based information and become familiar with the signs and symptoms of their mental health issue
  • starting slowly - try small actions first, such as going for a walk or visiting a friend
  • encouraging them to get enough sleep, eat healthy food and exercise
  • discouraging them from self-medicating with alcohol or drugs
  • inviting them out, and encouraging other people in your lives to do so too
  • offering practical support, such as doing their shopping or cooking meals
  • encouraging them to seek help immediately if they are at risk of suicide or self-harm
  • looking after yourself too - see a mental health professional if you think it might help
  • explaining why you’re concerned and offer examples
  • using 'I statements', such as ‘I’m worried…’ or ‘I’ve noticed…’
  • providing information, such as books or brochures for them to read in their own time
  • offering to make an appointment with a doctor or mental health professional on their behalf, and offering to take them
  • accessing support services available to carers and friends of people with mental health issues
  • being proactive - find out the first steps to take.

Where to get help

If someone needs help, talking to a doctor is a good place to start. To find out more, or if they would like to talk to someone else, here are some organisations that can help:

  • SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) – call 1800 18 7263.
  • beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) – call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
  • Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) – online help.
  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) – call 13 11 14 or chat online.
  • Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) – call 1300 659 467.

Last reviewed: December 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

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