How to Help Someone Get Help
By Billy Cleary and Cole Garrett
At TELL, we realize that it can be hard to take the first step to get help when you’re struggling. Especially with mental health, there can be a lot of stigma and self-judgment around going to counseling or seeing a psychiatrist. Someone may think that going to counseling may mean that they are “crazy” or somehow defective. This isn’t true. Counseling can be a step into a journey of healing and self-discovery that has a positive impact on people’s lives. Going to counseling doesn’t mean you are defective, it just means that you need to talk to someone.
It can also be difficult when someone you care about is struggling but is reluctant to get help. We can feel frustrated or anxious for the person we care about, and we want them to go and get the care that they need. Having these conversations about getting mental health support can be delicate and may require some planning. Here are some tips that may be helpful when thinking about how to approach this type of conversation.
1) Non-judgement. It is key that the person you are talking to doesn’t feel judged or pressured into making a decision about going into counseling or seeing a psychiatrist. At the end of the day, this is their decision and it is important that they feel respected regardless of what they decide and empowered to accept help, if they need it. At TELL, we emphasize UPR (Unconditional Positive Regard) when navigating a conversation about mental health with anyone.
2) Coming from a place of concern and support – When approaching someone about counseling, it’s important to avoid approaching this as a type of enforcement or necessity. Basically, that you are not telling them to go to counseling because they “need it” or because “something is wrong.” Rather you are concerned for that individual’s well-being and want to offer resources that could give them support.
3) Phrase going to counseling as an option/choice – It’s important that the individual feels like they have agency and the ability to make their own decisions throughout the process. After all, the person choosing to attend counseling must be self-motivated. Allowing the person you are concerned about to have space to make the decision to pursue counseling is important to keep in mind.
“You need to go to counseling to deal with your emotional problems.”
“You are not adjusting well and you need help, please go to counseling.”
“Counseling would be good for you since you are in distress.”
“It seems like you are having a hard time, and I’m concerned. Would you consider going to counseling?”
“I want to help you get the support you need, have you ever thought about counseling?”
“I’m concerned and want to make sure you have the support you need. Would you mind if I gave you some resources?”
4) Giving Resources: It’s important to make sure that the individual has the information that they need to take the next step to go into counseling. They might initially be resistant, but something might change and they may make a decision to seek help. Even if they don’t act on the information that you give them, just knowing that the resources available may be a positive factor for that person in the future.
5) Making the Connection
People have different levels of comfort with going and seeking help. Some people may need help making the initial phone call or email to make an appointment. It might be helpful for some people to go with them to their first appointment (and be with them in the waiting room). Other people are very proactive and may take their own initiative to make an appointment or otherwise reach out.
Use your judgment to determine what level of support the person is comfortable with. Your relationship and the severity of the situation will help to determine how much support you may need to give.
6) Take Care of Yourself
Providing support and helping someone in your life to get the resources they need can require a lot of energy and headspace. It can be a lot to take on and you may have a strong sense of responsibility. It is important to know that you don’t have to take on responsibility for that person’s entire well-being. When possible, bring in other friends, coworkers, family members, etc. who can also provide support. You do not have to provide support alone. Healthy boundaries and your own self-care are incredibly important when you are caring for others. You may not be a trained clinician, and there shouldn’t be an expectation for you to act as one.
You can see some English language resources at the bottom of this article.
When someone we care about is having a hard time, there are things that we can do and ways that we can offer constructive and positive guidance. You don’t have to be a therapist to offer concern or to be there for someone. At TELL, we are also here to listen. Do not hesitate to reach out if you need to talk.
Mental Health Resources
Whoever you are, whatever you are going through, if you are living in Japan our trained Lifeline Support Workers are here for you. You don’t have to be suicidal to reach out, whatever is on your mind, we are here to listen.
Our service hours are split across our phone and chat platforms. We are available from Saturday 09:00 – Monday 23:00 (continuous service), Tuesday – Thursday 09:00 – 23:00, and Friday 09:00 – 02:00. Please check our weekly hours to find out whether we are currently available on chat or phone.
No one needs to struggle alone.
TELL Lifeline Phone: 03-5774-0992
TELL Chat: https://telljp.com/lifeline/
Free consultations and referrals to services in multiple languages
Counseling (Paid Services)
TELL Counseling offers confidential face-to-face and distance counseling psychotherapy services for adult individuals, couples, families, children, and adolescents.
Our experienced and compassionate therapists and psychologists are all licensed in Japan and/or overseas or are directly supervised by a qualified clinician.
To learn more, go to: https://telljp.com/counseling/
IMHPJ (International Mental Health Professionals Japan)
International Mental Health Professionals Japan (IMHPJ) is an interdisciplinary network of individuals and organizations providing mental health care, therapy, and related services to people of various nationalities living in Japan. Together, we strive for a high standard of professional performance.
To learn more, go to: https://www.imhpj.org/