This is a question that is commonly asked in my workshops which focus on mental health matters in the workplace. Often, it is very difficult to convince anyone to do anything that they don’t actually want to do – I think we all know this. In this blog post, I offer a few helpful ways which can become useful when trying to convince someone to seek help for depression, whether it be a colleague, a family member or a friend.

1. Before attempting to persuade someone that seeking assistance for their mental illness is a good idea, try to find out why they may be seemingly unwilling to seek help. There can be various reasons for this such as denial that they need help, fear of stigma, financial constraints, and lack of knowledge of available resources. Discuss these openly and honestly with them.
2. Practice your ability to be empathetic. If you come across as unable to understand the person’s circumstances, they are not going to listen to you. You need to let the person know that you can imagine what it’s like being in their shoes…this is empathy.
3. Make it very clear that your suggestion is coming from a place of love and care. Any hint of irritation or frustration from your side will likely result in the person being unwilling to engage in the topic and could also result in said person avoiding you in the future.
4. Confidentiality is key. The stigma surrounding mental illness is real and the person may require the reassurance that what you are talking about will remain just between the two of you. Reassure them of confidentiality.
5. Make sure you have an educated and reasonable understanding of what depression actually is. Undermining their depression by suggesting that it will simply pass or that a warm cup of chamomile tea should help only work to showcase your lack of understanding with regards to mental illness. Minimise the chance of the person walking away from you by properly understanding the illness is a good place to start.
6. Get to know some of the available resources in your area so that if the person is amenable to your suggestion of seeking help, you can point them in some sort of direction. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is a useful starting point.

Convincing someone to seek assistance for their mental health is a difficult but not insurmountable task. With the right attitude, a lack of judgement and by creating a space wherein a person feels comfortable talking about themselves and their feelings, it is possible to convince those closest to us to seek help in their struggle against mental illness.

If you are interested in learning more about mental illness, take a look at the workshop offerings on my services page.

Take care everyone.

Your partner in Mental Health Matters in the Workplace.

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