Help Someone in Distress

Many of us know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and what to do if we start experiencing them. Yet many of us do not know how to identify and support someone who may be in mental or emotional distress. It’s likely that someone we know will experience a mental health problem so it is important that we know how and when to help.

The signs and symptoms of mental illness can be difficult to notice, even for the person experiencing them. Those around a person with mental illness may be the first to notice something isn’t quite right, so having the skills to identify and support someone in distress is critical. Some people may not be open about their challenges because they:

  • Feel ashamed
  • Don’t know how others will react
  • Don’t think they need help
  • Think they can handle it on their own
  • May not know help is available

You don’t need to be a trained professional to support someone in distress. Here are some tips for helping a person in distress¹:

Check out the resources for more information on:

  • Learn the signs of mental illness in others
  • Learn the available local supports for help
  • Avoid stigmatizing people with mental health problems by being inclusive
  • Have open, honest, and direct conversations with people about mental health

  1. Johns Hopkins University & Health System