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How to Notice When Someone is Struggling

Posted by Erin Fischer on

In this day and age, it can be so easy to be focused on yourself and not notice when people are struggling. It can also be hard to notice when people are struggling as let’s be honest no one wants to ask for help or look like they need it. There are some signs to look for that can indicate if someone is struggling and while it might take a while to see them to begin with, eventually it will become second nature to you.

So, what are things to look for?

  • Bailing on plans with no concrete reason – skipping regular events, making general excuses, committing to something and not following through.
  • Withdrawing – not messaging back, avoiding people, and doing the bare minimum communication.
  • Avoiding eye contact – not making eye contact when you’re talking to them or doing minimal eye contact.
  • Saying/doing something out of character – maybe they’re drinking more or they’re
  • Taking more risks – not being afraid to do things that hurt themselves or others, saying things like what’s the worst that can happen when discussing things.
  • Not eating/having no appetite – unintentionally skipping meals, forgetting to eat, only eating small amounts, or food has no appeal to them.
  • Lashing out/get angry – picking fights, getting angry over things that wouldn’t normally bother them.
  • Sleeping more/acting slow – struggling to get out of bed in the mornings, taking their time to get ready, everything takes more effort than it should.
  • Being emotional – being teary/crying for no reason, not thinking rationally over things, and getting upset over something small.
  • Talking flat/with no emotion – talking in monotones, not expressing emotion through their voices, minimal facial expression.

We’re all allowed to have off days and there will be days when your mental health will be bad and its totally ok to take a mental health day to recharge. At the same time if you’re these things are happening on more than one occasion it may be a good idea to check in with your friend and sit down with them. It can be hard to work out what to say, so below is a good guide of how to start the conversation:

Start off by having a usual conversation ask them what’s been going on with life and how they are going, maybe they will open up and tell you how they are really going? If not lead into saying that you’ve notice them acting out of character and list the reasons for example: you’ve not been as social lately, I’ve noticed you have been avoiding eye contact etc.  Follow it up by saying you don’t expect a response, but you are there for them and are more than happy to talk and provide support however they may need.

If they open up that’s great, but for many people it can take a couple of tries to feel like they can open up and be honest. Depending on how the conversation goes it’s a good idea send them a text saying that you are there for them and that you are only a text/phone call/message away.

We’re all struggling at the moment, lets be there for each other and provide support anyway that we can.

Feel free to drop by, just say, ‘Hey Barty’ in strict confidence and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or, do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments below any time.


About Erin Fischer

Am the qualified mental health professional at Barty Single Origin. Write topical pieces with a focus on mental health. Always available on chat, Passionate about reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and letting people know it's A-OK to be not OK.


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