How to help a friend who's struggling with mental health

How can you help a friend who is struggling with mental health? Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption How can you help a friend who is struggling with mental health?

If you are someone struggling with mental health problems then it can be difficult to ask for professional help.

Even once you've asked, it might not be the standard you were expecting.

Doctors have told the BBC that children with mental health problems are not getting treatment until they are in crisis and, sometimes, suicidal.

A letter leaked to Panorama reveals at least one area's child and adolescent mental health service (Camhs) is rationing care.

Of course, many people will go to their friends or family first but that can also be a big step.

If you think one of your friends is dealing with a mental illness, Newsbeat has been getting some advice on how you could help them.

Image copyright Laura Nuttall
Image caption Laura Nuttall was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder

It comes from 28-year-old Laura Nuttall, from Lincolnshire, who has struggled with mental illness since she was 14.

She spent years in hospital and was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.

"Trying to be there at appointments and making sure they're getting the help they need can be really valuable.

"Try to be there for them as much as possible to help them feel a little bit less alone," says Laura.

"Remember that you are not invincible so they will need to access professional support. Encouraging them to see a GP would be a great stepping stone into the services."

Image copyright Laura Nuttall
Image caption Laura went to Downing Street to petition for equal funding for physical and mental health

Laura now has a psychology degree and has recently qualified as a mental health nurse.

She adds: "I think it's crucial for people who are struggling with mental illness to realise it's not their fault and a massive way of achieving this is for their friends to stay in contact.

"Don't change the way you interact with them too much," she says.

Young Minds is one of the charities which offers advice if you're unhappy with the standard of the mental health treatment you're getting.

For help and support on mental health visit the BBC Advice pages.

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