When someone you care about has depression, you may not know how to help. Being there for them is important, but without knowledge or experience of their mental illness, it’s reasonable to feel stuck.
To help, we brought in a professional to provide some advice. Sheri, Behavioral Health Home (BHH) Team Supervisor, answered our questions on how to help a friend or loved one struggling with depression.
Q: As a mental health professional, what tips would you give to someone who wants to help their friend or loved one who has depression?
Sheri: If you are noticing signs of depression with a loved one, talk to them. Tell them how you are worried about what you are noticing. Give them time and space to talk to you about what they are going through, listen, and hear what they are saying to you. Don’t judge, dismiss their feelings, or minimize what they are telling you. Telling a person to get over it, or that it’s not so bad, and comparing yourself, or your depression to theirs is not helpful.
We are each independent people that experience and feel differently. It’s ok not to completely understand, sometimes we just need to have someone to listen. Remember this is not about you. It’s better to listen than give advice. Encourage your loved one to reach out to a professional.
Q: How should someone talk to their friend or loved one about their mental illness?
Sheri: It can be hard to talk with loved ones about their mental illness. Approaching it in a caring, compassionate manner is the best way to start a conversation. Let your loved one know you are there for them, that you care about them, and are worried. Ask a simple question to your loved one like, “I have noticed you aren’t yourself lately, how are you doing?” Once they feel comfortable talking with you, you can ask questions like, “Did something happen recently?” or “How can I help?”
Q: What should someone do if they feel unequipped to help this person, or believe the person may need further resources?
Sheri: The depth of the depression should determine how you respond to your loved one. Suicide is always a possibility when a person is depressed.
Encourage your loved one to reach out for help; make an appointment with their primary care doctor, schedule an appointment to see a therapist and or a psychiatrist.
You can help get your loved one to a crisis center or the hospital. There are a number of treatments and professional supports available to help individuals manage their depression. There are also text crisis support and crisis response teams in their county and support via phone.
If you are concerned and feel you don’t know how to help, reach out yourself to ensure you are doing all you can for your loved ones. Never take things lightly when a loved one is experiencing depression. They may appear as if everything is alright but can be really struggling to be well on the inside.
Q: Why are BHH services useful for clients who have depression?
Sheri: The BHH team is compassionate and listens to what clients tell us.
We use our experience to guide clients to the supports they need. We make referrals to mental health supports and professionals and intervene when needed to ensure our clients are safe. We educate the client about mental health services and empathize with them, understanding each one of them is different. We work with the entire family to support them along with collaborating with professionals and identified supports.
The BHH team meets the clients where they are at and tailors services to the client’s needs. We work as a team to find solutions and support clients. Our team is not a crisis response team but understands the need for clients to know what’s available to them and how to access it. This is important to the team and we work hard to make sure our clients are safe.
Refer Yourself or Someone Else to Guild’s BHH Services
You can refer yourself or someone else to Guild’s BHH services. Call the BHH team at (651) 286-8605 to get started. We look forward to working with you!