How to Find Mental Health Help for a Friend or Family Member

Oftentimes, people will not feel comfortable reaching out for help with mental health issues. By learning how to identify mental health issues in the behavior of your family and friends, you can step in to offer them assistance when it becomes necessary to do so.

If you have noticed a friend or family member experiencing side effects from a mental health issue, you should first speak with them to determine whether there is a long-term problem. It is possible the signs your friend or family member is displaying are only temporary from an immediate issue. Your friend or family member will still need help, but most likely not the kind of help provided by a mental health specialist.

There are numerous ways to find mental health help for a friend or family member. Once you have identified patterns of his or her mental health problems, you can determine the best course of action. Once the problem is identified, you should speak with a mental health professional to develop a strategy. If you need assistance speaking to your friend or family member, you can also ask for assistance from a mental health professional.

How to Identify Mental Health Symptoms in the Behavior of a Loved One

The first step toward finding mental health help for a friend or family member is to learn how to identify common symptoms of mental health issues. Every person is different and might display different symptoms or may be suffering in ways that are hard to identify. If you have noticed certain changes in the behavior of a loved one, you may want to speak with him or her directly to determine if he or she is having difficulty with a mental health matter. Some of the most common signs of mental health issues include:

  • Problems with functioning at school or at work.
  • Withdrawal from social circles and activities.
  • Sudden changes in eating patterns.
  • Sudden changes in sleeping patterns.
  • Sudden changes in hygiene.
  • A feeling of disconnect.
  • Severe changes in mood.
  • Problems with thinking or with memory.
  • Alcohol abuse.
  • Drug abuse.

If a loved one is suffering from one or several of these symptoms, it is important to reach out to see if there is something he or she needs to talk about or needs help dealing with.

How to Speak with a Friend or Family Member About Receiving Mental Health Help

When you are starting a conversation with a friend or family member regarding his or her mental health, it is important to voice your concerns while maintaining a calm demeanor. If you appear overly alarmed, it may cause your loved one to retreat into himself or herself before the problems are properly addressed. You can suggest a visit to his or her primary care doctor or to a mental health specialist as a stepping stone toward diagnosing the problem and finding the right level of help to alleviate the issues. You may also find it useful to accompany your loved one to his or her visit to the doctor or mental health professional. Your support during the process will help your loved one to stay on track with his or her treatment plan.

If you speak with your friend or family member about your concerns and he or she does not respond well to the conversation, you may want to consider the option of speaking with his or her primary care physician for assistance. While the doctor will not be able to divulge personal information to you, you can speak with him or her about your concerns for your loved one and ask if there is a way for the doctor to intervene. Consulting with a professional may also present you with new ideas for bringing the matter up again to your friend once he or she has recovered from the initial conversation.

If you feel as though your friend or family member is on the verge of hurting his or her self or hurting others, you will need to bypass speaking with them and contact emergency services, instead. There are crisis hotlines you can call, or you can call 911 and explain the situation to a trained professional. Most communities will have officers specifically trained to handle crisis intervention, and you can request one of these officers when notifying the authorities about the situation.

How to Find Mental Health Resources for a Friend or Family Member

After you have spoken with your loved one about the mental health symptoms he or she has exhibited and the potential for seeking help, you can find mental health resources to aid in the process. The National Alliance on Mental Illnesses (NAMI) offers direct support when you contact them and can help you to find the best ways to help your loved one. Additionally, NAMI can aid you in identifying local resources for your friend or family member to contact to begin receiving help. The professionals at NAMI can also help you locate national resources and state resources for you and your loved one to visit.

During the process of finding mental health help for a friend or family member, you can continuously lend your support by learning more about the issue he or she is going through. Once you have been able to identify the problem, you can work with your loved one to determine the best forms of treatment moving forward. You can consult with national, state, or local resources repeatedly throughout this process until you and your loved one are confident that he or she is receiving the proper treatment and medication. You may also find it beneficial to consult with a support group in your area as an added resource to gain insight and help following a mental health diagnosis. The individuals you and your friend or family member can meet in a support group may be able to recommend therapists to help manage mental health symptoms on a consistent basis.

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