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Anyone can experience a mental health challenge. Support from family, friends, co-workers, and anyone else can make all the difference. Not sure how to help? Use the following guide to support someone who is experiencing a mental health challenge.

Six Steps to Support Someone

1. Check-In

When you are concerned about someone, the first thing to do is check-in with them. It can be something simple like sending them a text message or a phone call. Let them know that you really want to know how they are doing and that you care about them. Gradually make your way to face-to-face conversation, but don't push it. Give them time and space to feel comfortable.


2. Actually Listen

Let the person explain what they are going through, and don't make assumptions about their experience. Listen genuinely.

Use open-ended questions. These are questions that cannot be answered with "yes" or "no." They allow the person to go deeper, open up more, and answer however they feel most comfortable.

Some examples of open-ended questions:

"How does this make you feel?"

"What is that like?"

"How long has this been going on?"

"How would you like things to be different?"


3. Give Them Time and Space

It can take time for a person to feel comfortable talking about what they are going through. There could also be times when the person is less communicative. In these times, give the person time and space to open up. Continue to check-in and support the person, but don't push it. If you continue to be there for them, they will most likely open up eventually.


Be patient -- the person will most likely appreciate you staying in touch even if they are not responding. 


4. Don't Try to Fix

You can't fix other people's problems. However, you can be there for the person and continue to support them. Use empathy to show them that you are listening and that you care. Use a simple statement such as "that sounds really tough" or "I can't imagine what that must be like." Thank them for opening up to you -- it is not an easy thing to do for many people.


5. Treat Them the Same

Avoid putting labels on them or letting stigmatizing attitudes change your perception of them. They are the same person they have always been. Keep including them in social activities and inviting them to do things that you would normally do with them. 


6. Ask How You Can Help

Remember not to try and fix things. Instead, ask the person what they need or how they want you to help them. Anything you can help with is fine, as long as it is appropriate. Continue checking-in.

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