02 Oct 2022

Minding Your Mental Health | 'How to support a friend with their mental health' - Joe O'Brien

Minding Your Mental Health | 'How to support a friend with their mental health' - Joe O'Brien

The global pandemic has been a worrying time for us all. The uncertainty and danger surrounding us in our everyday lives has taken its toll on the vast majority, and minding our mental health is as important as ever.

With that in mind, we turned to the expertise of one of our favourite lockdown discoveries in Trainee Health Psychologist Joe O’Brien’s increasingly popular Head First Instagram page (@headfirst0) and Podcast dedicated to promoting evidence based psychology and mental health information.

How to support a friend with their mental health⠀

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A post shared by Joe O Brien BSc MSc (@headfirst0) on

*Use the arrows on the above post to browse through all 10 infographics

⁠This is probably the most asked question I get. It is also one of the most difficult to answer. ⁠⠀

⁠There is no one size fits all when it comes to supporting people. Often the gentle approach is best, but for some they might respond better to a firmer approach. Some people might like to hear all of your suggestions for further support, others just need you to listen and not suggest anything. ⁠⠀

⁠This topic is hard, and there is no single answer. ⁠⠀

⁠I've been part of a 16 hour training programme that tries to answer this question for people who are supporting those with mental health difficulties. ⁠⠀

⁠To answer it in one post is near impossible, but these slides might be a useful guide. ⁠⠀

⁠The main points to take away are that⁠:⠀

  • ⁠We are human beings, and at the end of the day, supporting someone boils down to you trying to understand another person's difficulty, and offering your support.

  • ⁠Remember that people's struggles are a NORMAL part of human life. Feeling sad, lonely, upset, angry, guilty or anxious are ALL part of the human experience. When having a conversation about "mental health", you're really talking about a normal part of the human experience.⁠⠀

  • ⁠Listen to understand, not to respond.⁠⠀

  • Validate. There are no wrong feelings. ⁠⠀

  • ⁠Signpost if someone wants you to. ⁠⠀

  • Help someone get the basics in check. ⁠⠀

  • Ask the person what you can do, don't assume you know best. ⁠⠀

  • Set boundaries⁠⠀

⁠To get in touch about mental health support, email or to get in touch with our booking team email⁠⠀


If you liked this piece or found it helpful, head over to the Head First Instagram page or give the Head First Podcast a listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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