Mental Health Awareness: How can family and friends help someone in need?

An estimated 1 in 4 American adults will suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year.

>> Read more trending news

Yet, more than half of those in the U.S. with a mental illness will not receive treatment.

In 2020, it is estimated that more than 27 million adults in the U.S. who needed treatment did not get it.

That number has increased every year since 2011.

<< Mental Health Awareness Month: Here is a list of resources for help

Caring for a family member or friend with mental illness can be overwhelming. Here, are some tips for supporting a friend or family member with mental health issues.

How can you help?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers these tips when talking to someone who may be suffering from a mental illness:

· Talk to them in a space that is comfortable, where you won’t likely be interrupted and where there are likely minimal distractions.

· Ease into the conversation, gradually. It may be that the person is not in a place to talk, and that is OK. Greeting them and extending gentle kindness can go a long way. Sometimes less is more.

· Be sure to speak in a relaxed and calm manner.

· Communicate in a straightforward manner and stick to one topic at a time.

· Be respectful, compassionate and empathetic to their feelings by engaging in reflective listening, such as “I hear that you are having a bad day today. Yes, some days are certainly more challenging than others. I understand.”

· Be a good listener, be responsive and make eye contact with a caring approach.

· Give them the opportunity to talk and open up, but don’t press.

· Reduce any defensiveness by sharing your feelings and looking for common ground.

· Speak at a level appropriate to their age and development level. Keep in mind that mental illness has nothing to do with a person’s intelligence.

· Be aware of a person becoming upset or confused by your conversation with them.

· Show respect and understanding for how they describe and interpret their symptoms.

· Genuinely express your concern.

· Offer your support and connect them to help if you feel that they need it. Ask, “How can I help?” if appropriate, or even, “Can I pray with you now?” if appropriate.

· Give the person hope for recovery, offer encouragement and prayers.

Starting a conversation about mental health

MentalHealth.gov suggests these questions to begin a conversation about mental health:

· I’ve been worried about you. Can we talk about what you are experiencing? If not, who are you comfortable talking to?

· What can I do to help you to talk about issues with your parents or someone else who is responsible and cares about you?

· What else can I help you with?

· I am someone who cares and wants to listen. What do you want me to know about how you are feeling?

· Who or what has helped you deal with similar issues in the past?

· Sometimes talking to someone who has dealt with a similar experience helps. Do you know of others who have experienced these types of problem who you can talk with?

· It seems like you are going through a difficult time. How can I help you to find help?

· How can I help you find more information about mental health problems?

· I’m concerned about your safety. Have you thought about harming yourself or others?

How to get help for a friend or family member

If you think your friend or family member is in danger of harming themselves. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

If you think your friend or family member is in need of community mental health services you can find help in your area.

Or, click here for more resources.