Supporting someone with a mental health difficulty

If you are supporting someone with a mental health difficulty, you might not be sure how to help. The road to recovery can be difficult. Simply having someone who genuinely cares being with the person on the journey can be of great comfort and support.

What can I do to help?

There are many ways you can help. It is important that you talk with the person about what kind of support is needed, and that they want and welcome your involvement.
The HSE has produced advice for families and carers, including a document called “Mental Health: the journey together”. You can download the PDF form of the booklet here.

The HSE advise that you should:
Educate yourself about the mental health difficulty
Ask the person how they wish you to support them
Understand the limitations of your role
Mind your own mental health

How do I get support for myself?

It is important that you look after your own mental health, as well as the mental health of others.

Taking care of yourself

• Take a break: take time to relax and do something you enjoy
• Talk about what’s going on for you
• Connect with friends, family and community
• Exercise to keep stress under control
• Eat well: a balanced diet can help you concentrate and manage your emotions.

Joining a support group

You might also benefit from attending a support group. At a support group, you can share your challenges and meet people who can relate to what you’re going through.
Shine has support groups for people caring for someone with a mental health difficulty. You can email phil@shineonline.ie or click here to find your local Shine Regional Development Officer.
Mental Health Ireland has a Caring for the Carer programme, which aims to provide informational and practical supports for carers, with an emphasis on promoting mental health.
Click here to see the HSE’s information on support groups for carers.

Talking to someone

It may be helpful to talk to someone about what you’re going through.

• You can call the Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.
• Shine also runs a helpline. You can call them between 9am and 4pm Monday to Friday on 1890 621 631.