One of the most soul aching feelings can be seeing someone you love struggle with their mental health. It can make us feel helpless if we can’t bring joy and happiness and it can be equally as frustrating when they won’t seek professional help. With Australian statistics showing that one in five will struggle with a mental illness, the chances that we will be faced with this situation are high. Mental illness can present itself in so many shapes and forms, and someone who you have known for years to be ‘happy’ or ‘fun-loving’ can flip in an instant. This change can be caused by a single incident or a culmination of factors. Don’t forget, that person could also just be very good at hiding! So just what do you do if someone you love is hurting but they won’t make a change? How to Approach Someone Who Needs Help Understand that it isn’t all in your power First, and most importantly, is to understand that despite all your encouragement and effort, ultimately, it's the person's decision whether or not they seek professional help. You cannot control others, even if you have the best intentions. At the end of the day the best thing you can do is just let them know that you're there to help. There will be times when you have to walk away, leave the conversation and come back to the subject another day. Educate Yourself Mental health resources are available at the click of a mouse and there are some excellent support websites out there that can give you a strong overview of mental illness and its signs and symptoms. The more you expose yourself to information, the stronger position you will come from when trying to encourage someone to take action. Have the Awkward Conversation In our recent blog we talked about having awkward and uncomfortable conversations. They can be terribly hard sometimes, but can be essential to help things progress. We shared our steps to getting this conversation started - it’s about planning, approaching the situation from a place of calm and being open to taking the twists and turns it may take. This will be the hardest part of your journey, but one you just have to do. If the conversation goes well, excellent. It doesn’t, that’s when you need to reflect on tip one - understand it isn’t all in your power. Share Your Own Experiences If you’ve worked with a counsellor before, this would be the perfect time to share any positive experiences that you’ve had. Some people balk at going to therapy because they hold onto the misconception that high-functioning people don't need it. Many people still feel that seeking help can be weak. If your loved one is close to you and thinks highly of you, sharing that experience might help them take that step forward. Ask a Professional If you are struggling to ‘break the ice’, it might be a good idea to seek out the advice and support of a professional. A counsellor is trained to give you practical strategies to help set the way forward, years of training and experience means they have probably seen similar situations in the past. It’s also important to remember that being exposed to ongoing negative behaviour can eventually be toxic to your own mental health. …. Whether you take action today or take your time to up-skill and build your confidence to have that conversation, I wish you all the best. If you do need support or advice, reach out to us at Outred Psychology.