To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Aimee Hodgkinson from Aims on Health shares her tips on how to support someone with poor mental health and how to spot those all important signs. 

The mental health charity Mind report that 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year.

1 in 4. Do 4 people live in your house? Maybe you share an office of 4 people? Or have 4 best friends? No doubt we will come across people in our day-to-day lives affected by poor mental health (and we may not even realise it).

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. In support of the week I have listed different ways in which we can support someone who may have difficulty with their mental health. This can include;

Being aware of the signs/symptoms

Everyone’s mental health is different, meaning the signs and symptoms people may present with may be different too. This can make it challenging in determining whether or not someone has a mental health need. Common characteristics can involve a change in their personality, thought process or social interactions – yes this could be for loads of different reasons other than their mental health, but it’s something to look out for. The NHS has a list of different mental health illnesses including the signs and symptoms of each of these, as well as treatment options.

Ask the question

“Do you need help?” Whether they have a diagnosis or not, asking for help can be difficult. Asking someone if they need help can help them access support without the difficulty of having to ask for this themselves. It can also help them feel less isolated and alone, a symptom of having poor mental health.Know specialist support services

These can vary dependent on the mental health illness. The first point of call would be to go and see the GP. There is also guidance of mental health support services within the NHS Website.

Support can also be offered from community mental health teams, children and adolescent mental health services and adult mental health services.

Support can also be offered from charities examples include Samaritans, RethinkYoung Minds, and as previously mentioned, Mind.

Offer emotional health support

Sometimes the smallest of gestures can make a big difference. Listening to a loved-one can be really helpful. Poor mental health can sometimes leave someone feeling lonely or in fear, and offering reassurance to them can help relieve this feeling. Supporting them in attending appointments, or support groups can itself help an individual when they may be feeling intense emotions themselves.

Encourage self-care  

Something everyone should practice! When someone is unwell (both physically and mentally) it can be hard to be motivated to get out of bed and do things to look after themselves. Encouraging self-care is important, and has been proved to improve mental health symptoms. Self-care doesn’t have to be a solo act; this can be practiced in groups. Activities can include, going for a walk, getting some exercise, having a beauty routine, eating your favourite meal, meditating, reading a book, the possibilities are endless!

Acts like this can go a long way to help someone in need. I hope this week you see lots of people talking about mental health, get involved in the conversation, reduce the stigma and spread the love. You could be in a room with someone who needs it.