Full article by Clark, E (2018) on FB here @ https://www.sane.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=777&Itemid=1612 | Note: I am not connected to Sane Australia but find their articles and resources excellent
When it comes to mental health, we all tend to diagnose people from a distance from time to time.
The problem is, armchair analysis is rarely, if ever, helpful – whatever the motive or intention.
Summary of How to help instead:
- Encourage the person to share how they’re feeling with you by saying or texting something simple like, “I’ve noticed that you haven’t seemed like yourself lately and just want you to know I’m here to listen if you want or need to talk. Are you okay?”
- Accept that they may not want to talk about their situation to you – or may even be in denial about what they’re going through – but that there’s still value to be found in asking. It may mean the world to them that someone has noticed they’re struggling, even if they don’t show it. Ultimately, it’s only people not asking that’s likely to do someone experiencing mental illness any harm or reinforce thoughts of worthlessness, resentment or invisibility.
- Encourage them to see a mental health professional. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals have many years of training and experience under their belts. Finding the right therapist can be a tough challenge for people living with mental illness, but it’s not an insurmountable one. The process is often compared to dating and starts with a visit to a GP, so support them to make that initial appointment.
- If they’re a person in the public eye, recognise that even if they’re in the grips of a personality disorder or mental illness, it’s not up to you to pass judgment on their mental character. Politicians are often called ‘crazy’ or decreed mentally unsound when they’re exhibiting what could be more accurately referred to as ‘moral failings’.
When Donald Trump became President of the United States, people from all over the world diagnosed him from afar with various personality disorders. The problem with this is that it not only detracts from the value of expertise, it stigmatises both the person being diagnosed and anyone else living with that psychiatric condition.
- If possible, ensure that the person you’re concerned about has a solid support base by alerting any friends, family members or acquaintances you may have in common to the fact you’re concerned they may be experiencing mental health issues. You don’t have to give details or a diagnosis, just encourage them to check in with them too. It goes back to the idea of making asking for help that little bit easier.