Help4friend: a guide in offering mental health support to loved ones

Mental health impacts 20% of young adults in the UK.

Beyond this, an even greater number of university students are suffering from some kind of mental wellbeing issue. The problem is, in fact, so big that it is being widely discussed in the media, at university boards and even within the government. Yet, the evidence shows that what is being done is clearly not enough. Mental health statistics reveal that 75% of young adults suffering are not receiving efficient treatment: services are unable to keep up with the level of support required. With these statistics readily available to peruse, it is time to be proactive.

The solution to the UK’s mental health crisis does not just have to lie within the university, media or the government. It can also lie within ourselves. With an increased ability to support friends as they encounter times of struggle, we could help the healing process. Yes, it is important to seek professional help, but during a time when counselling sessions get booked up as soon as they are released, providing support to friends could ease this difficult period of waiting, and provide reassurance.

Imagine a situation where a loved one is struggling mentally due to university stress or problems at home. Would you know what to say and what to do to comfort and support them? Would you know how to start a conversation about their mental wellbeing? Whilst it is important to encourage our friends to embark on a process that will support them fully (which often includes counselling from professionals), it is incredibly valuable to educate yourself around the topic of mental health, and how you should approach the issue when encountering it. With 20% of young adults impacted, it is not a topic that we can afford to shy away from.

That is why a group of people from within and outside the university have all volunteered to build a project to educate university students about the warning signs of mental wellbeing problems. Help4Friend is a resource for university students, to enable full support to those that they see struggling.

During the development of this project the team had to ensure that all the available information is correct and can be used by the students. Members worked closely with the Counselling Service, the Disability Services and the NHS to ensure that the information provided can be distributed and used in an appropriate manner.

Help4Friend teaches people about the appropriate way to approach the topic of mental health if you see someone struggling, and how to support your friends through treatment if they are getting counselling. It’s also powerful to know what to do if someone you love is resisting help or hasn’t yet accepted the severity of their situation.

One of the reasons why the project is innovative is because it gives out practical instead of idealistic advice. In addition to advice on how to recognise behaviour associated with mental health issues, there is also information provided that covers how and where people can seek help, including step-by-step guides, so you never feel alone or confused when you offer support.

Visit the website to learn more about the warning signs of mental wellbeing problems, and how to help support friends and loved ones through what can be a very difficult time.

Taras Lanchev

Photo credit: Pixabay