Three ways to help someone struggling with their mental health

A QUESTION THAT’S OFTEN ASKED BY FRIENDS AND RELATIVES OF SOMEONE STRUGGLING WITH CHALLENGES SUCH AS DEPRESSION, ANXIETY OR PHOBIAS IS: HOW CAN I HELP?


OFFER A MORE HELPFUL PERSPECTIVE


Often, someone with long-term poor mental health views their situation and the world in general in a certain way – like a filter on a camera or sunglasses that alters our perception of reality slightly.


In the case of someone who’s suffering from depression, anxiety or a phobia, this filter would be like adding a shade of brown or grey to some sunglasses, making everything appear tinted with a negative bias.


Of course, this isn’t the reality of the situation – but it’s easy for someone suffering from depression to view an event such as meeting friends for a social evening in a negative way due to combination of their thinking styles and emotions controlling their perspective.

This is understandable if you’ve spent a long time dealing with rafts of negative emotions dominating your thoughts and feelings.


After all, we have around 50,000 thoughts a day and even if only 10% of these are of a depressive nature, that’s still about six unhelpful thoughts every minute of an average day.

Of course this would skew someone’s world view to something that might not be healthy or helpful.


A good way to start to help someone you know who might be viewing the world through what The Thrive Programme calls “sh*t-tinted spectacles” is to gently challenge their viewpoint.


Is someone viewing the world in a way that’s positive, forward-thinking and helpful for their mental health? Or are they viewing life through the brown-tinted spectacles that skews reality to a more depressive version?




GIVE THEIR SELF-ESTEEM A HELPING HAND


Often, people experiencing depression or anxiety – the two most common forms of poor mental health – have very low self-esteem. Self-esteem describes what a person thinks of themselves and it’s informed by lots of factors such as thinking styles, perspective, emotional state and, more generally, that person’s overall mental health. For example, someone with a very positive, happy mindset would be likely to have a kind and helpful view of themselves and high self-esteem. By contrast, someone struggling with something like anxiety issues might have a very critical and unkind view and low self-esteem.

A classic hallmark of someone with low self-esteem is an inability to accept compliments or paise without framing it with a negative opinion. For example, you might offer a compliment on someone’s photography skills and someone with high self-esteem would happily accept this appraisal of their skills and thank you.


Someone with very low self-esteem and a low opinion of their work would find it hard to accept that their efforts are solely responsible for this compliment. They might perceive that you’re not being sincere and offer a rebuttal.


How many friends do you know who tell people that they’re not good at taking compliments? This is low self-esteem in action.

So, next time you’re with a friend or family member who you know might be struggling with self-esteem issues and they take a compliment in anything other than a thankful, positive manner, don’t leave it that.


Tell them exactly why that outfit looks so great on them, why that photo is so amazing or why they’ve done a great job at work this week. Offer evidence to counter their low-self-esteem-driven view and you’ll be doing that person a great service by helping them build self-esteem and foundations for mental wellness.





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