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Worried about someone's mental wellbeing?

Worried about someone's mental wellbeing?

11 October 2021

By Chris McVey

We all worry about our family and friends from time to time. For example, they might not be acting like their usual self or get upset more easily. What do you do? It’s natural to want to support our family and friends if we think they are struggling and it is important to talk about it.

What are the signs that someone might not be ok?

  • are they not acting like their normal self?
  • are they angry and aggressive?
  • are they tearful?
  • do they talk about feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless?

Also look out for situations that may trigger the above signs, such as:

  • financial worries
  • bereavement
  • job-related stress
  • family breakdown
  • loneliness and isolation
  • generally going through a hard time

After spotting the signs, the next step is to have a conversation and actively listen. Most of us speak to people every day but how often do we fully listen to what the other person is telling us? When someone is struggling with their mental health it takes courage to speak to someone about it, so we should make time and give them our full attention. It’s also good to:

  • make eye contact and be engaged in the conversation to show that you care
  • be patient – it might take several attempts before someone is ready to fully open up
  • use open questions that need more than a yes/no answer, such as ‘How are you feeling today?’ and follow up with questions like ‘Tell me more’
  • check your understanding without interrupting - repeating something back reassures them that they have your attention
  • don’t feel you have to fill a silence – allow them the space to speak

If you think someone is in immediate danger, for example if they have hurt themselves, you should call an ambulance by dialling 999. If the situation isn’t an emergency, you could suggest that they speak to their GP. You could even offer to make the appointment on their behalf.

Getting professional help is important. We often want to try to ‘fix’ the problem ourselves but trying to fix things is a job for an expert. For example, you wouldn’t try and fix a broken leg – you would take someone to A&E.

RSABI is also here to offer emotional, practical and financial support to individuals and their families involved in Scottish agriculture. You could suggest to someone that they call our helpline, or, with their permission, you could refer someone through the helpline. We will call them to find out how best we can support them. This could include helping them to access counselling, which many of our clients find invaluable. If cost is a barrier we can look at providing a one-off grant to cover a series of sessions with a trained counsellor.  

Our helpline can be contacted on 0300 111 4166 and is open 365 days, 7 days per week from 7am-11pm.


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