Do you need urgent help?

If you need to speak to someone right now, here are some confidential options which provide 24/7 support.  If you're worried you might hurt yourself or someone else, please call 999, or go to your nearest A and E.

Lifeline

For people who are experiencing distress or despair.

0808 808 8000

Childline

Helps anyone under 19 in the UK with any issue they’re going through. Childline is free, confidential and available any time, day or night.

0800 1111

Samaritans

24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You don't have to be suicidal to call us

Supporting Someone With their Mental Health

If someone you care about is struggling with their mental health, it can be hard to know what to do. Read our guide on supporting someone with their mental health.

It can be really rewarding to know we are helping someone we love. Caring for a friend or family member could help us feel closer to them.

We might also feel as if we are growing our understanding of mental illness and developing our ability to empathise and support others. We might feel as if we become more resilient and more skilled at advocating.

We might not feel like this all the time, but it can be helpful to remind ourselves that we are doing something important by offering our time and care.

If someone you care about experiences mental health issues, it can be hard to know how to support them.  Here are some ideas to help. 

Learn more about mental health issues

Knowing more about diagnosis and symptoms can help us understand our friend or family member’s experience. This might help us feel more confident about supporting them. It might also help to read or watch personal stories and blogs written by other people with similar experiences.

You can also read our comprehensive information about different mental health conditions. 

Ask them what would help

They might want some practical support, like below.  It might just be really helpful to know someone is there if they need a listening ear. Encourage them to think about what has helped in the past. If they have a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), they might be happy to share this with us.

They might not be sure what would help right now – but we can remind them to tell us when they think of things they need. It might help to share our information on how you can help yourself.

Be open minded

This is especially important if we don’t have any experience of mental illness ourselves. We might not be able to understand why they can’t change their behaviour or see things differently. It’s rarely that simple.  Mental illness can be difficult to live with and affects different people in different ways.

Stay patient and calm if you can

Sometimes our friend or family member might say upsetting things or push us away. It’s understandable to feel hurt, especially when we are trying our best to help. Try and remember that they are dealing with difficult experiences and emotions. It might also help to talk to other people we are close to, or look for some peer support. 

It might also help us to read personal stories and experiences of other carers supporting people with mental illness.

Offer practical support

Some examples of practical support might be;

  • cleaning the house,
  • cooking some meals,
  • helping with childcare,
  • going with them to appointments,
  • helping them plan revision or make time for coursework,
  • reminding them to take medication,
  • helping them to find the right support,
  • going with them to groups or exercising together, or
  • helping with the garden.

Think about how to respond to unusual or difficult behaviour

Some mental health issues can cause people to see, hear or believe things that other people don’t. Try to remember that their experience is real to them and might be very scary or worrying. It’s important not to laugh. Talk about how the experience might feel for them rather than focusing on what is ‘true’ or false.

Rethink Mental Illness has more detailed information on what we can do to respond to unusual behaviours.

Plan for difficult times

It can be helpful to think about what our friend or family member might like to happen if their mental health deteriorates. It’s usually best to do this when they are feeling well.  Sometimes making a written plan can mean it’s clear for everyone.

It might also be helpful to read about supporting someone in difficult situations.

Find out more about their rights

Get support for yourself

Supporting a friend or family member with a mental illness can be hard work. Sometimes this is called caring. You are a carer if you provide unpaid support or care for someone who has a mental illness.

If we offer any kind of support or care, it’s important to make sure we think about our own needs too.

Remember it isn’t all negative

It can be really rewarding to know we are helping someone we love. Caring for a friend or family member could help us feel closer to them.

We might also feel as if we are growing our understanding of mental illness and developing our ability to empathise and support others. We might feel as if we become more resilient and more skilled at advocating.

We might not feel like this all the time, but it can be helpful to remind ourselves that we are doing something important by offering our time and care.