Previously, we talked about the concerns of how mental health and substance abuse disorders can become exasperated around the holidays and ways to handle going to family and friend events or being okay with staying home. One of the biggest concerns for people who struggle with these problems is how their supportive relationships interact with them. With any kind of recovery, we must always include in the treatment and faith process the loved ones of the people who are struggling. So today, I am talking to you and how you can help make the holidays better for people who struggle with mental health.

I want to recommend several ideas that you can implement to help someone you know that struggles with mental health or substance abuse. I do ask that you also go check out the previous article to understand what the people may be considering for the holidays and how you can support them.

Ideas For Loved Ones To Support Friends With Mental Health

  1. Call and talk to them. If they don’t answer, send them a short “I’ve been thinking about you” text.
  2. Invite them to your party. If they say no, tell them they can stop in last minute. Don’t push though.
  3. Buy them their favorite meal for lunch and eat lunch with them.
  4. Pray for them. Ask if there is anything specific to pray for. Again, don’t push.
  5. Tell them you’d be happy to listen. Make sure they understand you will keep it within confidence as long as it’s not something that would harm them or others. Keep your promise.
  6. Research about general good mental health practices like getting enough sleep and exercising. Share some ideas with your friend. Go for a walk with them.
  7. Churches have special services. Make sure your family member knows about it.
  8. Find a fun hobby (knitting, painting, reading, playing video games) and figure out how either they or the both of you can learn more about it or spend a couple hours doing it.
  9. Offer to watch dogs, cats, or children so your friend can have an hour or two of self-care.
  10. Ask them occasionally how they are doing. Then follow that question up with ten more questions you are interested in knowing about them.
  11. Go to the movies, mall, or coffee with them. Financial stress is difficult, so make sure it will be cheap or free. Also, guilt and shame can be present so be careful with offering to pay for them.
  12. Find charity opportunities where you can go with the person to help serve meals or do other acts of services.
  13. Invite them to a Bible study.
  14. Encourage them to go to counseling with a professional or pastor if needed. Offer a ride if necessary.
  15. Be aware of signs of mental health to be able to do an extra check in if needed.
  16. If you go to a party, ensure your friend has enough space or energy during the night. Also, avoid overstepping boundaries.
  17. Minimize alcohol or other mood altering substances within the environment.
  18. Be careful with sharing memories. Some can be very positive, others very painful.
  19. Be patient. Always.
  20. Help them understand this added stress may be just for a season, but also realize these symptoms are still going to be present later on.

What other ideas would you add to this list?

Published by Jeremy Smith

Jeremy is the Co-Occurring Program Coordinator and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at a community mental health center. Jeremy has a history of working as a ministry director for Youth for Christ for 8 years and then working as a mental health and substance use adult counselor in Colorado and Ohio, specifically running an Opioid Residential Treatment Center.

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