June 3, 2015
They asked me to submit something that particularly addressed mental health in the context of relationships, so I wrote this article on supporting people in our lives when they’re struggling.
Most of us will experience a mental health difficulty like depression, anxiety or addiction during our lives. And at some point, most of us will have a friend or family member who is mentally unwell.
Our culture tends to view people with mental health problems in one of two ways. Either they have brought it on themselves and need to ‘pull their socks up’, or they have a ‘disorder’ and need help because they’re incapable of helping themselves.
When faced with a friend who is suffering it is tempting either to blame them for their problems and try to shake them out of it, or to leap into ‘rescuer’ mode and try to fix them.
Neither extreme is a good solution. We can end up angry and resentful if we hold them responsible for their problems, or burnt out from all our attempts to help. They can end up more defeated and self-critical than ever if they feel culpable, or kept in a guilty and powerless state if they can’t respond to our efforts.
As a therapist and psychology academic I am often asked to give advice on supporting friends when they’re in difficulty. Here are seven thoughts on how you can help without either rescuing or blaming. Read more…