Calls relating to anxiety or panic attacks currently account for around one in six of all calls made to mental health charity Mind, research reveals.Add to this stat the fact that one in 20 of us experience an anxiety disorder, a quarter of 18 to 34-year-olds feel that showing their emotions is a sign of weakness and 20% of them have cried in the past week because of anxiety, and it's obvious that mental health issues are a problem for more people than many realise.While it’s important to remember that everyone deals with their mental health differently, here are a few practical tips for how to support someone when they’re going through a difficult time. 1. It's the little things. A cup of tea, a sympathetic ear, and sometimes just a hug – even the smallest gesture can be impactful. 2. Ask how they're feeling. Open communication is key. Be empathetic; you must put yourself in the shoes of the person who’s not feeling great. Do this by asking open questions, like how they’re feeling, and what they need in that moment. 3. Do some research. It’s good to know the general patterns and facts about mental health, especially if you’ve never been through it yourself. Try to implement what you've read without listening to the person’s individual perspective. And be patient. 4. Don’t pressure the person to get better. Allow them to be unwell without judging them. It’s different for each person, so talk to them about what they need and what's going to help them. As somebody starts to feel better, support them in even the smallest of steps, even if it’s just a walk down the street. 5. Don't ask why.
Sometimes there are no reasons why it happens; anxiety and depression can just rear their ugly heads. Understand there may not necessarily be a reason why, but they will come out the other side. Be patient and wait for the turning point. 6. Empower the ill person.Do the research, but don’t force advice or suggestions onto the other person. This will make them feel more guilty when they aren’t ready to take the advice. Offer advice and suggestions in a non-intrusive or forceful manner. 7. Don't bury your head in the sand. Partners in particular need to try really hard not to pretend like the problem doesn’t exist. Friends, family and partners need to stop themselves getting lost in a different world as it's unhelpful for them and their well-being – but it may also send out a really bad message to the person who's suffering. 8. Use exercise as a support. Exercise is good for us all. An unhelpful way to suggest exercising would be “try and go for a walk” or “why don’t you go for a walk?” A helpful way would be: “I’m going to take a walk, do you fancy coming?” If they say no, leave it at that and try again the next day. A walk can also be a useful distraction, so take in the surroundings while out and about. 9. Consider your own well-being. This is also really important - find help and support from other family members or friends. 10. Concentrate on a good night's sleep. Lack of sleep is another contributing factor to anxiety, so always support sleep. Early nights or lie-ins aren't a guilty pleasure, but necessary for mental wellbeing. 11. Practise mindfulness together. Mindfulness for both parties can really help. It’s really good for anxiety as it’s about grounding oneself; it's not about what’s happened in the past and what might happen in the future, but the here and now There are also activites like mindful eating and colouring for adults.To find out more about how you can be there for someone close to you visit Time to Change.