You have probably arrived here because you have someone close to you who is suffering from depression, and you want to help. You have just made the first most important step, which is to learn how you can help them. Here are some things you can do (and avoid) when it comes to supporting friends and loved ones with depression and other mental illnesses.
What Not to Do
Before talking about ways to help people with depression, let’s take a moment to discuss what you should not do or say. These are sometimes objective since everyone is different, but they provide a good general guideline. Helping others means never judging them, first of all. It is okay to not understand how depression works, but you are there to be supportive. Don’t try to cure their depression, assume it will go away if they try hard enough, or be critical of how they deal with their mental illness.
Try to avoid saying things like just relax and deal with it. This is only going to make them feel worse and like they can’t even do depression the right way. Don’t avoid being around them or talking to them just because you don’t understand what they are going through. And lastly, just because your friend does not return your call, does not mean you should not continue reaching out. They might not be in a place where they can talk, but they will still appreciate the gesture.
Invite Them Over
A really easy way to connect and check in on someone who suffers from depression is to simply be there for them. Don’t ask them to let you know if they need anything, because even if they do, they will most likely say no. They feel worthless and lack confidence and don’t want to be a burden on others. Instead of that approach, think of something casual and fun you can do together, that they would also enjoy doing. It can be as simple as inviting them over for dinner or going out for coffee or to a movie.
Show Your Concerns in a Gentle Way
Asking questions about their health or showing that you are concerned about them is a good way to check in on people with depression, but always be kind, gentle, and non-confrontational. You should not make them feel judged or like they are being criticized. Instead, let them know you have been thinking about them, tell them you are concerned when you are, and ask if there is a way you can support them.
The more you understand depression the more equipped you can help a loved one cope with depression. Look for resources like BetterHelp, which provide information and advice on depression and how you can assist in your loved one’s journey to healing. Learn how to be a better listener and let them know you are there to offer unbiased support.
Give them help through unconditional love and support. Ask them if it would be okay for you to help them with cooking, cleaning or running errands. Offer doing things they would enjoy such as getting out of the house for a picnic, or even indoor games or a movie night. Little things that help them get their mind off their problems and, also, help them experience some company.