With 1 in 4 individuals living in the UK suffering from a mental illness, it is likely that someone in your family or friends group is one of those people. From depression to border-line personality disorder, there is always one recurring factor that must be remembered. Seek help. The more support within a sufferer’s life, the less pressurised they feel to wallow in their irrational shame and isolation.

By reading this article, I hope to enlighten your world with ways in which you can help those in your life coping with depression. But don’t worry if they don’t reach out to you immediately. Something with such a mind-numbing pain attached can often take the person time to understand and cope with it themselves.

Understanding Depression

The first step to caring for those you love is through understanding the illness itself. Without the knowledge of how the illness is affecting them and others, there is no real relevant way that you can help. However, as each individual has their own experience of depressive symptoms, it is advised to let them explain how they feel first. Once this has been established, then you can begin to cushion the impact for them. For example, if they feel as though they are isolated from the world and this is creating an overt sense of depression, then make them aware that you are always available for company or even a simple cup of tea.

Despite this, people with mental illnesses also tend to value their time alone to reflect and get to know themselves, so you should definitely avoid any form of smothering.  Nevertheless, with a gentle reminder that you are there for them, this can go a long way.

Another way in which you can help your loved one is through the boosting of their low self-esteem. With depression, it is almost guaranteed that the way in which they feel about themselves is fairly negative. But if you want to care for them, then reinforcing a cycle of positivity can help with this. So, if they have decided to get out of bed, or are looking more cheerful on those better days, then don’t forget to remind them of this. With the occasional complimentary comment, you can help to break their negative thought pattern, reminding them that they always have been, and of course always will be a beautiful person.

Don’t Make It All About You and Your Experiences… Just Let Them Talk

If you also suffer from depression yourself, I am sure you are aware that there is nothing worse than people smothering you with their stories of how they overcame their illness. In one way, they probably believe that by telling you about their experiences, this will automatically benefit you; however, it doesn’t. As I’ve mentioned before, each individual person suffers from their own specific depressive symptoms, meaning that just because you’ve overcome your illness, by following the same path they can too. This is a common mistake and can often make those being talked at feel insignificant and overwhelmed.

The first step to success in this area is to make it obvious that you are available to talk. By extending this invitation, this then provides them with the opportunity to accept whenever they feel comfortable and ready to open up. As the first discussion can be overpowering, then you must be prepared for tears and snotty messes; but once they come to terms with their depression, and accept that they need help, then it can only go up from there. It is also important to remember that often when people discuss their mental illness, they feel ashamed of their ‘weaknesses’. However, as a stigma that needs to be destroyed, you must make them aware that it is okay to feel down. It is the recovery and learning to love yourself that is important. By doing so, you’ll reinforce this significantly important mantra: Your mental illness does not define you!

Every Little Helps

A further method support is to reinforce the importance of maintaining their typical everyday schedule. When suffering from depression, an ordinary routine can often become overwhelming, causing isolation and sadness to consume them as you feel as though they cannot leave their bed. This can often lead to difficulties regarding money, especially if they convince themselves that going into work is not an option. However, by contacting advice services such as Mental Health and Money Advice, professionals who understand will be able to create a plan of guidance and offer you services into how to help someone with poor mental health with their expenses.

By following the aide of this article, I hope that you will be able to alleviate the suffering of your loved one. As such a common problem in the UK, I know how consuming mental illnesses can be. However, with your support, you should be able to encourage your family member or friend to open up and seek the support that they so desperately deserve.