Family and friends often play an important role in supporting loved ones with mental health problems, but sometimes they cause unintentional stigma and discrimination.

If you notice a loved one behaving differently, it may be a sign that he or she has mental health problems and needs your support. Those with whom we have the strongest connection may be the first to notice that something is wrong, but don’t feel offended if your friend or family member doesn’t feel comfortable sharing it with you.

The stigma makes it harder to ask for help, especially from those who are closest to them. This is not a personal insult, as many people react differently and may prefer to talk to a professional, another friend, or may not be yet ready to talk about it all.

Do not focus on the negative aspects of mental health issues and do not show that they worry you, as it will become obvious. You may need to talk to someone about your fears and worries, and that’s okay. It is more than likely that family members or friends will want to share how they feel with someone they trust. They must feel ready for that.

Here are some proper tips to consider when it’s time to talk:


  • Be there to offer non-judgmental advice and listen.
  • Avoid using clichéd phrases like “it will pass” or “you just need to keep yourself busy.”
  • Avoid arguments and confrontation.
  • Offer to help in any way.
  • Help with practical things like shopping, cleaning, babysitting, taking medicine.
  • Allow family/friends space and time, if they need it, do not suffocate them.
  • Do not show anxiety or fear through your body language.
  • Encourage them to seek professional advice when they feel ready.
  • Be direct and do not be condescending .
  • Remember that mental illness does not define a person.
  • Do your own research or talk to someone you trust so that you can offer more practical support and better deal with the situation you are facing.