If you’re worried about someone struggling to cope, it’s important to remember that your job isn’t to advise them or to find a solution to their problem; often just having someone to talk to is enough. Experts recommend finding ways to empathise rather than just sympathising. Empathy involves recognising how a person is feeling without trying to find a quick solution to their problem or making a judgement about whether it is valid or not.
Signs of distress
The Samaritans suggest that the following indicators can be important signs of distress, particularly when they begin to interfere with someone’s everyday life:
A persistent lack of energy or tiredness
A lasting feeling of restlessness and agitation
Regular feelings of tearfulness
Avoidance of / withdrawal from people
Not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
How to respond
Talk to them…
Offering a listening ear is the most helpful thing you can do when someone is struggling. You don’t have to tell them anything or give them advice; try asking questions rather than trying to find answers. This helps the person find their own way through things and take ownership when trying to resolve difficulties.
Active listening is a way of helping someone to talk about their feelings. Whilst you have to do some talking, your aim isn’t to influence the other person but to help them to open up; you’re really there as a sounding board. For tips on being an active listener, visit the Mind Tools website.
The earlier someone tackles a problem, the quicker they can overcome any difficulties, so encouraging them to seek support quickly can be very helpful. There are lots of people and services in Pershore, or if they would prefer, they can approach their GP or find specialist support.
In an emergency…
Always call 999 if someone is hurt or in immediate danger.
Get support for yourself…
Supporting a friend in crisis can be emotionally exhausting and very stressful but you do not need to go through it alone. Speak to your own your GP, or speak to one of our volunteers for support.
You may be interested to read:
The Mind guide to supporting someone when they’re suicidal
The Time to Change guide to supporting someone you know
The Mental Health Foundation friendship and mental health page