Family & Friends - Know the Words
If you're concerned that someone is feeling very low or depressed, let them know that you want to help them.
- Let them know you've noticed changes in their behaviour and are worried about them.
- Talk but it's most important to listen to them.
- Don't just talk about mental health.
- Don't judge or try to diagnose.
- Promise to be discrete but don't be sworn to secrecy.
- Assure them that they will get the right help.
- Ask if they are suicidal - it's ok to ask this. It will not put the idea in their minds if it's not already there. More on this below.
What you can say
- "I'm going to support you and I'm here for you - even if it's just to go for a walk or sit and watch the TV together".
- "You're not alone. Lots of people have felt like you do but have got help to feel better".
- "This must be really tough to deal with everyday. Let's see what we can do together to help you feel better".
- "Have you had thoughts of suicide?".
- "If you have had thoughts about suicide, we can get the help that you need".
Know your Supports
- In an Emergency, attend A & E: If your loved one feels suicidal, has self-harmed or requires medical attention, call 999 or 112 or head straight into your local Emergency Department. This is a direct route to professional help. But the busy A&E can bring unique challenges to those presenting in these circumstances. So to help get the most from your visit, we have a useful guide with tips on attending A & E for mental health related issues. Where covid restrictions permit, we recommend if someone is suicidal or has self-harmed that they have a companion with them throughout their visit. A&Es are busy places and not ideal for someone feeling vulnerable or very low. However, they do provide the quickest access to professional help in certain circumstances.
- Doctors and medical professionals: If you think that your loved one might be depressed, you can encourage them to speak with their GP or health professional. They are specifically trained for this and better still, they want to help. Also they've heard everything and never judge, no matter how unusual the situation. Simply talking to a GP or Nurse may provide relief. They can explain some of the physical affects depression can have on the body and discuss helpful lifestyle changes. They may prescribe medication or other therapies to suit particular needs. Seeking medical help should be encouraged as a first step in recovery and GPs are easily accessible and are approachable.
- Follow Advice & Treatment Programme: Taking that first step to see the GP is a great move. However, it's important to be patient with the treatment of depression. Encourage your loved one to take comfort that they've started the road to recovery, but they must remember that therapies such as medication can take time to take effect. Counselling & other therapies also take time. So, although it's unrealistic to expect instant results, it's helpful to remember that the positive effects of treatment will come gradually with time and will be worth it.
It's a marathon not a race and just like running, even slowly, you are always making progress.
Depression & Suicide
- Firstly, it is possible to feel depressed and to NOT feel suicidal.
- But sometimes a deep depression can lead to thoughts of suicide and if you are concerned someone is depressed, you need to be mindful that they may also be having suicidal thoughts.
- Thoughts of suicide or death are a serious symptom of depression. This is not only a warning sign that a person is thinking about suicide, but it's also a very serious call for help.
- It is ok to use the "S" word to ask if they are suicidal or if they have been.
- Whether your loved one is having recurring thoughts about death and suicide or having them for the first time, it's important to treat this information very seriously and take steps assist them access the help they need. They deserve not to feel like this and there is help available.
- For someone with suicidal thoughts, Suicide may feel like the only way to escape the pain. Sufferers often feel loved ones would be better off without them, but we know that this is not the case. Let the person know they are loved and that people care. Most people would rather know that someone is feeling suicidal when they can help rather than to find out when it is too late. Suicide has a devastating effect on families and loved ones left behind.
- Bear this is in mind if a person asks you to keep secret any plans of suicide. It's better to get them the help they need than to keep a confidence. if you are concerned about losing their trust or friendship, you must remember that their life is the priority and must come before your relationship with them.
- For more information on Depression, see our Understanding Depression section.
- 3Ts Video series: 3Ts have produced a series of short & simple videos on a series of mental health topics, including depression and related issues. If you're concerned or unsure what steps to take, whether for yourself or for a loved one, our video on depression is a good place to start. Our professional psychotherapist provides practical tips on recognising & understanding signs & symptoms, how to approach the issue and access to supports. Know the Signs, Know the Words, Know your Supports.
- Self Help Brochures: a series of guides on Depression & related topics that are available to download read or listen to audio. Many of us struggle with mental health issues but don't have direct access to therapy or key information which could help. To fill this gap, 3Ts series of self-help booklets covers a range of topics to serve as a 'first step' towards recovery. This series of booklets on a range of mental health topics including Depression & Low Mood, are written by clinical psychologists and provide the reader with key cognitive behavioural techniques to help manage common mental health problems. We've made the booklets accessible, easy to use and short (20 - 30 pages). Depression Brochure Download Link.