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I don’t know how to help

Working with and for people with mental health problems means you'll need to be prepared for times when things aren’t easy.

Staff have reported that one of the most challenging aspects of involving people with mental health problems is how to respond when they discuss distressing experiences.

What to do when someone shares an upsetting story

It’s important to:

  • Find a safe and private space to talk
  • Give the person the opportunity to share without it impacting on others taking part
  • Listen without judgement
  • Validate the person's experience
  • Offer reassurance and signpost to sources of support
  • Know your own limitations
  • Know where to seek support for yourself

Make sure you have the details of organisations and local services with you, so you can easily signpost if needed. This could include:

Lending a friendly ear can also help, but make sure you maintain appropriate boundaries.

You can find out more about setting boundaries in the planning section of the toolkit.

Training staff to manage difficult situations

Training can help staff to feel better prepared for challenging situations. Topics for training could include:

  • Introduction to lived experience influence and participation
  • Thinking about and managing risk
  • Facilitation skills
  • Mental health awareness
  • Mental health first aid
  • Handling difficult or emotional conversations

Other ways to get involved

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