How do you let a person know that you think they might need help?
It’s not always easy to know how to help someone who is experiencing depression/anxiety. It can be hard to know what to say or do. We all respond to situations and talk about things differently. The following approaches are designed with this in mind. They offer you a number of ways to help a friend or family member.
Taking that first step towards helping a person who appears to be in need, requires some thought and care. Choose a mutually convenient time and place.
Listen more than talk
Sometimes, when a person you care about wants to talk, they’re not necessarily seeking advice, but just need to talk about some of their concerns. Listening, rather than talking, is a way of understanding how someone feels. This is called active listening. You may like to save any suggestions, solutions or advice for a later discussion and instead, offer neutral comments such as ‘I can see how that would bother you’.
Use appropriate body language
Body language plays an important role in helping the person you care about to feel more comfortable. To show you are listening, try to maintain eye contact and sit in a relaxed position.
Use open-ended questions
Open-ended questions are a good way to start a conversation. They require more information and can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Some examples are ‘So tell me about..?’ or ‘What’s troubling you?’
Sometimes, if people are experiencing the symptoms of depression/anxiety, they may find it awkward to discuss their thoughts and emotions openly. They may even get angry with you when you ask if they’re OK.
The following tips may be helpful when approaching a difficult conversation:
• Stay calm
• Be firm, fair and consistent
• If you are wrong, admit it
• Don’t lose control.
Spend time together
Often, just taking the time to talk to or be with the person lets them know you care and can help you understand what they’re going through.
Take care of yourself
As a family member or friend of someone who is experiencing depression/anxiety, it’s important to look after yourself. Take time to relax and enjoy things you like doing.
To find out more about the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, available treatments and where to get help, visit the beyondblue website at www.beyondblue.org.au or call the info line on 1300 22 4636.
This article is from the beyondblue information sheet: Fact sheet 1 How can you help someone with depression-anxiety.pdf.