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Helping a Friend or Loved One

There are many ways you can help a loved one that is dealing with a mental health condition. If you are not a mental health professional, you might not think that you can help, but there are so many things you can do to provide support for your loved one.

The first thing you can do is to educate yourself. Taking time to educate yourself can help you become more understanding and empathetic towards your loved one. It also shows your loved one that you truly care about what they are going through. You do not have to become an expert in all things mental health, but it can be incredibly beneficial to learn common symptoms and ways you can provide support.

Another way you can help a loved one who has a mental illness is to provide support. This is going to look different for each person. Some people want to talk about what they are going through and some people just want to know they have your support. One question that is good to ask is, “How can I best support you right now?” Asking this question will allow your loved one to share how they feel most supported. Other questions that might be beneficial to ask are, “Can you help me understand how you are feeling?” and/or “What can I do to help right now?” Simply starting the conversation is a great way to show that you care. Once you start the conversation, if your loved one wants to discuss how they are feeling, it is important you listen without judgment. Normalizing the conversation around mental illness is a great step to help reduce the stigma.

Just like we check in our friends when they are not doing well physically, it is equally as important to check in our friends with they are not doing well mentally. You can educate yourself, provide support, listen non-judgmentally, and even connect your loved ones to different resources that are available nationally or in your own local community. A simple conversation can go an incredibly long way when it comes to supporting a friend or loved one. It might not be an easy conversation, but one that is very important.

Katie Zimmerman, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation

Katie Zimmerman joined The Kim Foundation in June 2019. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and Sociology from Central College in Pella, Iowa. During her time in college, she volunteered at many non-profits organizations and took multiple sociology classes which focused on mental health. Katie’s role at The Kim Foundation includes running the social media accounts, assisting in the Youth Advisory Council, and providing mental health awareness and education to the community through A Voice for Hope and Healing presentations.