Are you reluctant to reach out to someone who might be suffering from depression? Not because you don’t want to, but because you’re afraid of their reaction or saying the wrong thing.
Before shying away from the topic, remind yourself that you’re simply showing compassion. It doesn’t have to be a hard or uncomfortable situation – you can make a big difference just by being kind.
“What if I’m being intrusive?”
“I don’t want them to feel insulted.”
…are probably what you are thinking about right now. Try using these tips from Jade Goh of The Mind Faculty when checking up on someone:
- Use open-ended questions to avoid appearing judgmental
You want to give your friends an opportunity to respond without getting defensive. For example, “You don’t seem like yourself late. How is everything going?” instead of “You’ve been so down lately. What’s wrong?”.
- If someone tells you they are depressed, avoid trying to fix it
Holding space doesn’t mean fixing a problem – it’s providing them with a safe space by deeply listening to understand them. By saying things like, “If you’re feeling down, you should try exercise and meditation”, you’re invalidating their feelings and minimizing their struggles.
- Be curious about what they are going through
Show them you care by asking open-ended questions such as,” What has this felt like for you?”. Being depressed can be a lonely and isolating experience, so make them feel heard and acknowledge their pain – “That must feel so overwhelming.”
- Help them to identify a support network of friends and family
Ask them, “Have you told your mum about this? How do you think she would react? Who do you think would be a good person to support you?”.
- If you can, ask them: “Has it ever gotten so bad that you feel like hurting yourself?”
If your friend has expressed suicidal or self-harming behaviour, encourage them to seek help. “That must feel incredibly scary for you. Please know that I want to support you in any way that I can but I’m afraid I’m out of my depth. Can I help you to make an appointment with someone?”
In times like these, it’s important to stay connected. Be more empathetic towards others even though we deal with stress differently and react to things in our own way. You can find a list of resources below to help you help someone you care for.
Being kind and compassionate is extremely beneficial for mental health. By providing others with support, you’ll be able to help them manage their stress and anxiety.
Let’s work towards building a healthier and happier society! Pick up the phone and start telling your family and friends, and even your colleagues and peers, that you’re there for them.
Mental Health Resources
The Mind Faculty
A private mental health clinic offering a wide-range of psychiatric, psychological, counselling and complementary therapies.
Contact Number: 03 6203 0359 / 03 6203 0733
A not-for-profit organisation providing emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to people who are lonely, in distress, in despair, and having suicidal thoughts – without charge.
Hotline Number: 03 7956 8145
The Malaysian Mental Health Association
A non-profit voluntary organisation established to promote mental health awareness and public mental well-being.
Contact Number: 03 2780 6803
Women’s Aid Organization
Provides free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence, rape and other forms of violence.
Hotline Number: 03 7956 3488