I'm worried about someone

What are the signs that someone might be struggling with their mental health?

Are you worried that a friend, family member or colleague is behaving differently? We all have mental health in the same way that we all have physical health. But it can be much harder to know if someone is experiencing problems with their mental wellbeing.

Everyone's mental health can change at different times and we will all experience ups and downs along the way. It's important not to make assumptions about what someone might be experiencing or going through. However, some of the common signs that someone might be struggling can include:

Changes in mood

  • Low mood or changes in mood, from very high to very low.
  • Being easily irritated, overreacting to situations or appearing aggressive.
  • Sounding hopeless or very self-critical.

Changes in behaviour

  • Withdrawing from family, friends, colleagues or fellow students.
  • Avoiding situations or loss of interest in usual activities.
  • Coming in late to work or college; being absent from work, missing lectures or not turning up to social engagements.
  • Change in appetite or sleeping less or more than usual.
  • Working longer hours than usual or trying to do too many things at once.
  • Not taking care of personal appearance or leaving living space untidy/unclean (if this is unusal or out of character).
  • Posting worrying messages on social media or going quiet when they're usually very active.
  • Increased drug use or drinking more alcohol than usual.
  • Reckless or addictive behaviour that puts them in danger.

Changes in thinking, feeling and physical sensations

  • Feeling anxious, panicky or worrying more.
  • Poor concentration, low energy, tiredness or being easily distracted.
  • Loss of confidence or feeling overwhelmed by tasks.
  • Expressing false beliefs or hearing/seeing things that others do not hear or see.

What are the possible signs that someone is struggling with their mental health?

How can I talk to someone about their mental health?

It's only natural that you want to be a good friend to someone you care about. If you're concerned about someone it can be difficult to know how to talk to them about their mental health. You may be worried that you don't know what to say or that you might upset them by bringing it up. You could also be worried that you might say the wrong things.

Follow our TALKS technique to help you to start a conversation.

How can I talk to someone about their mental health?

How can my friend/relative seek help or support?

The person you're worried about can talk to their GP about their mental health. There's more information about when someone should go to their GP and help with how to prepare for an appointment here. You can also explore the range of support services available in Leeds including help you can access without a GP referral as well as information about common mental health problems and self-help strategies on MindWell.

You can speak to their GP and log your concerns, but the GP will not be able to discuss any personal details about their health or care with you.

If your friend or relative has had previous contact with specialist mental health services ask, them if they have a current care plan (Leeds and York Partnership Trust). The plan should have contact details for the person's support worker who they can call to discuss and log any concerns.

If you're supporting someone who is struggling with their mental health - it's important to be kind to yourself and look after your own physical and mental health. Find some self-care strategies and ways to take care of yourself here on MindWell.

I’m worried about someone who is pregnant or a new parent. What support is available?

The 'I'm pregnant or a new parent' section of MindWell can help you to find a range of support in Leeds, self-help strategies and information for what to do if you are worried about someone.

I’m supporting someone who is in crisis. How can they find help?

If there is an immediate danger call 999 now or go to A&E.

Not sure what to do? Call NHS111 (open 24 hours a day) when you need help urgently, but it's not life threatening. A trained adviser will ask you a series of questions about the person you are worried about and immediately direct you to the best service to support their needs.

If the person has had previous contact with Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust (LYPFT) - do they have a crisis/safety plan with contact details? If you're unable to find the plan or need urgent help accessing LYPFT services, you can call LYPFT's Single Point of Access (SPA) on 0300 300 1485. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, you can text 07983 323867. The SPA Team provides an access point for referrals by health care professionals to specialist mental health services in Leeds. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's helpful if the person you are calling about knows you are calling and, if possible, would be willing to speak themselves.

You can also download this resource which can guide you through the different kinds of support available for people in crisis:
How to find help in a mental health crisis

I’m worried that a friend or relative is having suicidal thoughts. What should I do?

It's not always easy to know if someone is thinking about taking their life. Some signs can include:

  • Talking about death and suicide.
  • Sounding very hopeless and preoccupied that everything is wrong and will not change or get better.
  • Expressing shame or guilt that everything is their 'fault'.
  • Feeling worthless, self-loathing or a burden to other people.
  • Withdrawing from friends or relatives.
  • Behaving recklessly in ways that cause them harm - taking drugs and drinking more alcohol, for example.
  • Looking for ways to take their life such as hoarding tablets.
  • Sorting out affairs - making a will, giving things away, making other arrangements or saying goodbye.
  • Appearing unusually calm or happy after being very depressed.

It's also possible that someone can deliberately try to hide the signs that they are feeling suicidal. Or, without much warning, some people can find their emotions suddenly reach breaking point when life stresses become overwhelming.

  • If you're worried that your friend might be having suicidal thoughts - don't be worried to ask. Talking about it can make it less likely to happen, not more and it could come as a relief to be able to talk about it.
  • Don't judge or be critical. Reassure them that these feelings will pass and they can find help.
  • If they tell you about a plan to hurt themselves, don't ignore it. If you're worried about their safety and the risk is immediate - don't leave them and don't let them leave you. Call a professional involved in their care, such as their Care Co-ordinator, if you have a contact, if not call 999 or go to A&E.
  • Remain calm, sit with them in a safe place either until help arrives. Remove anything that they could use to take their own life. Encourage them to ring a helpline if it would be easier to talk to a stranger. Stay with them until they have been seen by the mental health team.
  • If you aren't with them - try to get to them: if you can't and you're very concerned - call the ambulance service and ask them about a welfare check.

It can be very upsetting and distressing to support someone who feels suicidal - it's important to be kind to yourself and consider your own wellbeing needs as well. Find some self-care strategies and ways to take care of yourself here on MindWell.

How are you feeling? Do you need emotional support?

Carers Leeds is the organisation that supports unpaid carers in Leeds. Are you helping a friend or family member due to their illness, disability, mental health issue or a substance misuse problem?

Yes? Then you are one of 72,000 unpaid carers in Leeds. And Carers Leeds is here to support you.

Carers Leeds run a support group for people caring for friends or relatives who are experiencing mental health difficulties.

Call Connect helpline on 0808 800 1212 (free phone) 6pm-2am every night. Trained volunteers and workers based in Leeds can provide compassionate, non-judgemental support and can give information about other services, if needed.

The Samaritans helpline can listen to you - call 116 123 (freephone). Open 24 hours.

You can find more information about the range of telephone support available and places you can go for emotional and practical support in I need help now.

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