Being there for someone living with a mental health problem

When somebody close to you is diagnosed with a mental health problem, it can be a confusing time. Whilst wanting to help, it can be difficult to know how or what you should say.

It’s very tempting to turn to the internet, as we saw in this week’s episodes of EastEnders, where Jean made the decision to tell her partner Ollie about her bipolar. We saw her moods and emotions change quite rapidly and Ollie, like many of us out there, suspected something wasn’t quite right.

I’d like to first acknowledge those, like Jean in EastEnders, who have bipolar, as somebody very close to me does, and the many situations they can find themselves in, where it becomes necessary to explain what they are experiencing and why their behaviour might have changed.

Whether it’s your partner, employer, children, other family members, or friends and others. Taking that step to talk about it can be scary. To an outsider it may seem like an obvious move, to get the support of those around you by telling them all about it. But it can be a really big step.

When I first heard about someone close to me having bipolar, my first reaction was to be reassuring and show emotional support. But of course I also wanted to know more about it and how I could help practically too. The EastEnders storyline about Jean’s bipolar was really well researched and showed how Ollie used the Mind website as a source of information about bipolar.

As well as finding out some of the facts, it can also help to hear other people’s personal stories, how they coped with a diagnosis and how they get through it – knowing you are not alone is very important. What works for one person might not work for another, so talking and understanding someone’s own ups and downs is important in knowing how you can help and support them.

I will say from my own personal experience, you don’t always get things right, it’s impossible to get it right all the time and I still don’t even now, but I know where to go for support, and I know that I can talk about it openly with my relative and they know I’m there for them.

Charities like Mind can really help to give you the information and support you need to be there for someone living with a mental health problem. They have stories from others too and these can also make it easier.

If you’re an EastEnders fan, keep watching this storyline. We know those close to Jean – Kat, Alfie and close relatives – can see her moods change and know what to expect and how best to help. I’m interested to see how Ollie will be there for Jean now, he seems to be on the right tracks, will it all turn out well for Jean and her new love?


You can follow Steve on Twitter @steviedawson


Reposted From: Mind