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As we spend time with friends and family who we hadn’t seen for a while during lockdown, you might notice someone is not acting themselves.

Although it can be hard to tell if someone’s struggling with their mental health, there are some things that you can look out for.

Signs someone might be struggling

Someone might need some extra support if they:

  • Are socialising less or cancelling plans more than usual.
  • Don’t reply to messages or they are being distant.
  • Seem tired or complain about tiredness a lot.
  • Seem restless or agitated.
  • Complain of lack of sleep or sleeping too much.
  • Have lost their appetite.
  • Have started smoking or drinking more than usual, or are taking drugs.
  • Have complained about unexplained aches and pains.
  • Are more emotional than usual.
  • Talk about feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless.
  • Talk about feeling trapped by things that are going on in their life.

How to support someone who is struggling

It can be hard to know how to support someone, but there are some easy things you can do to help:

  1. Talk: ask how they are feeling, using open questions (like, ‘How are you doing today?’).
  2. Listen: you don’t need to have the answers or offer solutions to their problems – it helps just to listen and to show you’re there for them.
  3. Be patient: it might take a few conversations before they feel able to open up.
  4. Stay connected: keep checking in and offer your support.
  5. Reach out: encourage them to talk to their GP or local NHS talking therapy service (like ours).

It’s important that we get the right support for our mental health – just as we do for our physical health.

If you’re worried someone may be suicidal, it’s okay to ask them about this – it won’t make suicide more likely. Research shows that asking someone directly can actually make them less likely to harm themselves.

If you are struggling with your own mental health, you can refer yourself to our free NHS talking therapy services.

Get started

If you or someone you know is likely to harm themselves or is at risk of suicide, visit our emergency contacts page:

Helpful resources

The Samaritans
Advice about active listening and supporting someone who is struggling.

Zero Suicide Alliance
Short online training to help you to support someone at risk.

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
Advice about supporting someone who may be suicidal.

Find a local NHS talking therapy service
Enter your GP postcode and find out where to get support.