It is not always easy to see someone who you care about becoming unwell, but you don’t need to be an expert on mental health to offer support. 

Family and friends can provide better care if they are informed about the illness, understand the type of treatment and are aware of the expected recovery time.

It is also true that people who are experiencing a mental illness will not always reveal all their thoughts and feelings to their close friends and family. Because of this, family and friends cannot expect to always know when someone has a mental illness and should not feel guilty that they ‘did not know’.

The best approach is to acknowledge that mental illnesses are common and to learn how to recognise the signs and how to offer support.


The signs to look out for: 

  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
  • Insomnia (can’t sleep) or hypersomnia (too much sleep)
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Anger or irritability