9 Tips For Supporting a Friend On Their Mental Health Journey

9 Tips For Supporting a Friend On Their Mental Health Journey

For someone struggling with mental illness, support from a friend or loved one can make all the difference.
If you’re concerned about someone in your life, but not sure how to go about asking if they need a hand, you can follow our 9 tips to help ensure the conversation is as open, effective and supportive as possible.

1. Find a private place.

If you’re initiating the conversation take the time to think about the time and place. It’s best to choose somewhere you can talk openly, and a time when you can listen actively, without rushing or checking your watch.

2. Be prepared for any resistance.

The person you’re reaching out to might not be ready to talk, and that’s okay. If you reach out and they dodge conversation or say it’s not something they want to talk about, it doesn’t mean the conversation is a failure. You’ve still let your friend or loved one know you’re concerned, and you’re there for them if they need you.

3. Ask gentle questions.

Do ask gentle questions to help your friend or loved one explore their options. You might ask how long they’ve been feeling this way, or if they need support to see a GP or to contact a mental health professional.

4. Recognise your own level of expertise – or where your ability to help is limited. 

Do know your own boundaries. It’s great for you to reach out and offer support, but it’s also important to keep yourself physically and emotionally secure and to remember to take some time out for your own self care. Be mindful of where your expertise or capacity to help is limited. You might need to refer someone on to a professional or other support services.

5. Make sure you have an emergency plan.

If someone is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, you need to call 000 or to reach out to a trusted person, like a parent, teacher, or health professional immediately.

6. Allow them to express themselves fully.

Try not to use language like “don’t worry”, “cheer up”, or “it’ll be better tomorrow” – language like this can make someone feel as though you’re minimising or trivialising their experience.Instead allow them to express themselves freely without interruptions.

9 Tips For Supporting a Friend On Their Mental Health Journey | Radiant Mental Health

7. Do not diagnose, or analyse.

It’s important not to offer your own diagnosis of what they’re going through, or debating the facts of their experience.

8. Avoid trying to ‘fix’ the problem.

Though it is incredibly hard to see a friend or loved one hurting, it’s important to understand that mental illness is complex, requires patience, and won’t just disappear over night. Instead listen actively, practice patience, ask gentle questions, and suggest different ways for your loved one to seek support.

9. Listen non judgementally. 

Try not to judge, analyse or question experiences you can’t relate to, or can’t quite wrap your head around. Experiences of mental illness are unique to each individual and can manifest in very different symptoms, behaviours and feelings. Try to listen without judgment, and to respond calmly, without exhibiting shock or alarm.

If a friend or loved ones need professional support you have a range of options.If someone is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, call 000 immediately, even if they ask you not to. 

For a friend or loved one who isn’t sure what they’re experiencing, or needs immediate support, it’s best to go straight to a GP. If you’re friend or loved one is ready to talk to someone and seek support, they might use a service like Radiant to find and connect to a counsellor or mental health professional that feels right for them.

Dealing with Stress – a UTS Guide

Dealing with Stress – a UTS Guide

A small amount of stress can be a good thing, challenging us and forcing us to grow and to exceed previous expectations. However, when the demands on us threaten to overwhelm, it can become more and more difficult to deal with any of them effectively. 

 It’s vital to recognise the kind of situations that can lead to stress, including excessive workloads, lack of sleep, ill health, financial difficulties, changes to working or loving patterns, moving home, pregnancy, or relationship breakdown, among others. 

It’s important you try and develop a lifestyle that sees to all of your needs: physical, mental and emotionally. Make sure you get enough exercise, take time out for social activities and establish supportive relationships. 

 We’ve put together an additional selection of useful tips for overcoming stress: 

  • Take control by consciously relaxing, whether through physical exercise, breathing exercises or activities you enjoy.
  • Be creative in your approach to tasks. For example, if you feel stressed at the prospect of writing assignments, ask the advice of your tutor or take a HELPS academic writing course.
  • Talk with others about your anxieties and concerns.
  • Never be afraid of asking for help – everyone experiences stress at some time.
  • Accept your failures and move on. See value in your mistakes: no mistakes means no progress.
  • Be encouraging and supportive of yourself. Always appreciate who you are and the unique qualities you have.
  • Try to keep things in perspective. If a situation is getting on top of you, step back, adjust your goals and take action.
  • Most of us are very good at giving advice. Try looking at your situation as if it were a friend’s.
  • You can always contact our own Counselling Service.

For more information and guides, go to the UTS self-help resources page

How to attract young clients in the digital age

How to attract young clients in the digital age

Mental health professionals are probably all too aware that marketing can be difficult or a bit of an unknown. To help inspire you and navigate your way through, we asked Olivia Boer, a Clinical Psychologist who opened her Launceston practice in late 2017, to share her experiences about how she  markets her services to young clients in the digital age…. What are some of the big challenges to mental health professionals when it comes to marketing to young people?

Learning about how to market my services to young clients in the digital age has been a steep learning curve, but it has been immensely rewarding. Marketing is not taught to mental health professionals at any stage during their training and a lot of what I have done to boost my client base has been self-taught. It has been a case of trial and error, but there are plenty of ways to open your doors to younger clients in the digital age, you just need to do your research, then get started.

How have you developed your approach to marketing?
I believe it is not uncommon for mental health professionals to feel “really uncomfortable” with the notion of having to market themselves because they don’t really understand what marketing is. Mental health professionals need to understand that marketing is all about connecting with people and developing relationships.

What do mental health professionals need to think about when it comes to marketing?
The most important question any mental health professional wanting to market their services needs to answer is: who is your target audience? In my case it is younger clients because my practice focuses on child development, but even if your focus is baby boomers going through the upheaval of an emotional divorce, for example, the same principles apply.

Why you need to work on a business plan?
Most of my clients still come from GP referrals and word-of-mouth, but any mental health professional wanting to increase their client base via digital platforms needs to have a business plan that includes having a modern, vibrant and regularly updated website as well as a consistent social media presence.

Why is having an online presence so important?
Nowadays when prospective clients first hear of or go searching for a mental health service, the first thing they tend to do is look online. If the person finds that the website looks outdated (or does not even exist), lacks current and relevant information, is difficult to navigate, and doesn’t set the right tone, this won’t encourage them to take it a step further and contact the practice. As I have already mentioned, most of what I have had to learn about marketing has been self-taught via podcasts, books and working with a mentor/business coach. As well, I hired someone doing a marketing degree to work as an admin staffer in my practice, which has been a great way to generate fresh ideas.

What does a website need to offer young clients?
Having a positive, clear and well-communicated website that uses clear, simple conversational language is one of the first ways to build trust with prospective clients. I believe a website ought to be a nice mix of information, while also having light-hearted almost humorous tone at times, as well as always offering a call to action. However, the worst thing you can do on your website is come across with too much of a sales pitch.

What other marketing strategies are important?
While working in the digital age is paramount, I know [building] “relationships” with potential new clients is still done the old-fashioned way – in person. This means part of the practice’s ongoing marketing strategy is to consistently nurture those relationships by having regular face-to-face meet and greets with local GP practices: this means my practice now gets around 10 referrals a day.

What are the best social media platforms?
With my practice, it is important to acknowledge that up until the age of 20, it is the young person’s parents who would be organising any treatment and so while young people are generally more interested in being on Instagram or Snapchat, I post on Facebook to reach mums; they are my main followers on that platform. I do have a personal Instagram page which I use for marketing purposes as an adjunct to Facebook. Even though half of my clients would be aged under 18, it is their mums or parents I target on social media. I do not mind that when I post something on Facebook, I get very few comments: there is still a stigma associated with mental health and seeking help. Nonetheless, the lack of online feedback is not an issue or a reflection of my lack of social media success as I encounter at least three people a week who tell me in person that they like what they see.

What are your digital hopes for the future?
As well as having a Facebook page to promote the services my practice offers, I have recently set up a group page on Facebook as I feel part of the need to have a social media presence is that it can create a passive income stream. I plan to offer eBooks, online courses and how-to guides to any interested parties in the months ahead.