In case you haven't already, please read the first instalment of this article here!
6. Be an active listener
Active listening is the practice of engaging all of your senses to fully concentrate on what is being said. I encourage you to stop being passive and give someone the space to speak freely, without interruption, judgement or unsolicited advice.
This allows for someone to feel heard and understood, and makes their issues feel valid and real. Try not to solve their problems, that’s probably not what they want. You aren’t there to fix things, you are there to listen and support.
7. Remind them this is not permanent, and this is normal
These emotions and feelings will pass. This state of mind is not permanent. Sometimes life is happier and easier and sometimes things are difficult and sad. This is completely normal. No one’s life is great all the time, and that’s okay. Things will get better, and they don’t have to soldier this alone. There are people that can help them through this, and they should ask for help when they need it.
8. Ask them how they would like you to support them
It might be something as simple as a hug. Physical touch can be comforting to some people. Maybe they might just want someone to talk to. Maybe they need help finding a professional who can help them (see point 10).
9. Build a support system
Help them identify other people that can help support them. For times when you might not be available, but also because you aren’t solely responsible for their mental health.
Remind them that they have people who will listen to and help them through this. People struggling with mental illness can feel isolated, that no one wants to listen or care about them. They just need to be reminded that they aren’t alone and there are people in in their lives that they can lean on.
10. Help them find resources.
You probably won’t be an expert in this and even if you are, you aren’t responsible getting them through this alone. You might not have the knowledge or experience to work through issues such as gender dysphoria, depression or anxiety with them.
Know your boundaries, just like they have their boundaries, you have yours too and are not responsible for carrying the weight of their issues. You want them to seek out of the help of professionals. You can be available for them to talk to, but a professional should be the one to unpack all their issues and teach them strategies to manage their mental health.
Encourage them to go to their GP with their mental health concerns and their doctor can help them get a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist. If they don’t have the confidence for that right now, there are options online for them to seek help and learn more about mental health.
For Australian readers, here is a list of organisations that you can either find resources at, contact in a time of crisis, or contact for online support and referral:
- Lifeline (13 11 14)
- Beyond Blue
- QLife (specifically provides anonymous and free LGBTI peer support and referral)
There are apps like BetterHelp and Talkspace, which are for paid online therapy, or there are apps that are more focused on mindfulness, meditation and grounding exercises such as Headspace, Calm, Moodfit, Happify, Smiling Mind, and Happier (most of which are free). I encourage you to look for resources and organisations in your own country that can help.
Remember to check in on the men in your life. Sometimes all it takes is knowing one person wants to listen to you. Just one conversation can make a big, possibly lifechanging, impact.