What to do if your friend is resisting help?

You can’t beat a mental wellbeing problem through sheer willpower, but you do have some control—even if the problem is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key to a healthy recovery is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day and draw on the support of others.

While you can’t control someone else’s recovery, you can start by encouraging the person to seek help. Getting an individual into treatment can be difficult. Mental wellbeing problems reduce energy and motivation level, so even the act of making an appointment or finding a doctor can seem daunting. It also involves negative ways of thinking. The person may believe that the situation is hopeless and treatment pointless.

Because of these obstacles, getting your friend to admit to the problem—and helping them see that it can be solved—is an essential step in the recovery process.

If your friend one resists getting help:

Suggest a general check-up with a GP. Your friend may be less anxious about seeing a doctor than a mental health professional. A regular doctor’s visit is actually a great option since the doctor can rule out medical causes of a mental wellbeing problem. If the doctor diagnoses a problem, they can refer your friend to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Sometimes, this professional opinion makes all the difference.

Offer to help your friend to find a doctor or therapist and go with them on the first visit. Finding the right treatment provider can be difficult, and is often a trial-and-error process. For a person who is already low on energy, it is a huge help to have assistance making calls and looking into the options.

Encourage the person to make a thorough list of symptoms and ailments to discuss with the doctor. You can even bring up things that you have noticed as an outside observer, such as, “You seem to feel much worse in the mornings,” or “You always get stomach pains before work.”

What is mental wellbeing?
Practical and emotional support in detail
How to support your friend’s treatment?

Source: Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. in collaboration with Harvard University