When you are supporting someone with anxiety or depression it can become overwhelming so remember to look after yourself too, and seek support when you need it.
What if they deny there is a problem or don’t want to talk
Accept that they might not be ready to talk. Tell them you’re someone they can talk to if they ever need to. Instead of talking about the issue, focus instead on staying in touch and doing things together that might make them feel less alone. If you’re still concerned over time, look for opportunities when they might be more receptive to the conversation. You could also suggest other people that they may prefer to talk to, such as a friend who has experienced anxiety or depression, or a confidential helpline.
Remember, you don’t want them to feel pressured and it’s their personal choice to talk about it or not.
What if they won’t see a professional?
Try to understand that it can take time for people to be ready to talk to a professional. You may not agree but respect their decision. Reassure them that they are not alone and plant the seed that professional support is available when they are ready. Discuss with the person what the barriers are for them, and whether there is any way you can help, such as taking them to the appointment, or finding a health professional they click with. Keep in touch.
Don’t make your support conditional on them seeing a health professional.
What if they are thinking of suicide?
If you are unsure whether someone is thinking about suicide, the best way to find out is to ask. Learn how to have a conversation about suicide or visit the Conversations Matter website to find more resources for discussing suicide. If the situation is urgent and they are in immediate danger, do not leave them alone (unless you are concerned for your own safety).
Call the person’s doctor, a mental health crisis service, or emergency services (dial 000). For further advice and support, contact the beyondblue Support Service (1300 22 4636), Lifeline (13 11 14) or the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467).