If you know someone struggling with their mental health, there are lots of things you can do.
- Are they in immediate danger? If you think someone is at immediate risk of hurting themselves or someone else call 999 and ask for an ambulance. If you are on campus, call Security on 01223 823333. Tell them an ambulance is on the way and give details of your location. Stay with them and reassure them help is on the way. There are other health and emergency services available for them around campus.
- You might find it useful to read Samaritans' tips on how to support someone you're worried about or rethink's advice on how to support someone who is having suicidal thoughts.
- You can share with some of the resources that are available to students at the University of Kent. You can find out more about this here and here.
Below we give you some ideas on what you can do to help and support them (adapted from NHS’ Every Mind Matters).
- Express concern and say you can help. Letting someone know you're worried is a good way to open up a conversation – it shows you care about the person, have time for them and that they do not have to avoid things with you. However, in doing so, you should avoid putting pressure on them to talk.
- Instead, you can reassure them. The first time someone mentions their worries is a big step. It's good to recognise this and reassure them. Let them know you're there to listen when they need to talk.
- Offer your time to listen. Listening is an important skill. Ask open questions that start with "how", "what", "where" or "when". This can help people open up. Read some more listening tips from Samaritans here.
- Be patient. You will not always know the full story. There may be reasons why they have found it difficult to ask for help. Just being there can be helpful for someone who may want to open up later.
- Offer practical help. Little acts of kindness – like offering to do the shopping or to go to professional appointments with them – can help. Find out what works for them and the resources available to them.
- Act as you usually do together. Do what you usually do – behaving differently can make someone feel more isolated or ashamed. It’s important to be mindful of the stigma surrounding mental health. Do not be afraid to offer kind words and a space to talk, whether by phone, messaging or in person.
- Do not force it. Do not force someone to talk to you or get help, and do not go to a doctor on their behalf. This may lead to them feeling uncomfortable, with less power and less able to speak for themselves.
- If they do not want support, gently explore their reasons for not wanting it. If they are unsure whether to get help, just talking and listening without judgement could help work out what's getting in the way.
- Look after yourself. It can be upsetting to hear someone you care about in distress. Be kind to yourself and take some time to relax or do something you enjoy.