Not easy for many of us regardless of what we do for a living at the moment, however, many fail to recognise the signs of poor mental health or, we do recognise the signs and choose to ignore them.

It is a fact that listening to someone can have a hugely positive effect on their mental wellbeing so, why do we sometimes miss the subtle signs that someone close to us is dealing with poor mental health?

Maybe because we have our own issues to contend with and taking on-board another set of problems is too much to consider. This is a valid point as we also have to consider our own mental health so, with these two key points in mind what can we do to help others and help ourselves?

To help others we can start by asking how they are and offering to listen to what if anything is wrong.

Spot the signs of distress: These could range from a mood change or not turning up for work, anything that is out of character could be a sign of distress.

Talk, say what you’ve noticed, invite them to talk: How you approach the person will depend on how well you know them, be aware that initially, they will probably not want to let you in and it may take many times of asking before they feel comfortable confiding in you.

Offer care, hope and comfort: Remember, you are not a therapist and you can’t offer a magic solution to end their problems, however, you can show you are aware and offer comfort by listening.

Professional or organisational support: You can signpost the person to the help available to them and there is lots of it. We have included a list of organisations that could be of use in most issues regarding mental health and wellbeing. These could prove to be the first step to being able to deal with their problem and will hopefully have a positive effect on the persons health. If the person is a work colleague then you could ask them to speak to the HR department who can usually give advice on what the company can offer. Many companies now offer Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) which can help with work-related stress and anxiety.

Self-help and other strategies: Many people will recognise the symptoms of their own poor mental health and act on them. For many the best form of relief is exercise, walking running, cycling all carry obvious benefits and are known to improve a person’s mental wellbeing. Keeping in contact with family and friends has become extremely difficult for us all, however, it is important we keep chains of communication open, keep up a dialog and keep in touch with the people who matter most to us. Distance yourself from negativity and negative people, we don’t need negativity we need positivity, social media can be great for keeping in touch but, can also be a place of misinformation and a breeding ground for fallouts!

Whichever way you choose to help, listening and making time to listen is probably the most important first step. If you are struggling with your own mental health then seek help, let someone know how you feel or use the list below to seek help.