Accompanying Someone to Support Services
Gavin O’Donovan, UCC
“Simply just by being there, you can make the experience much easier for your friend. Remember, it is important to take your lead from your friend and ask them first how you can help and support them.”
It takes courage to take that first step towards accessing support. Simply just by being there, you can make the experience much easier for your friend. You could also help the person to explain the situation or take the opportunity to voice your concerns. Remember, it is important to take your lead from your friend and ask them first how you can help and support them.
If you go with someone to a support service appointment:
Be clear about your concerns
- Clearly express your concerns and what you have noticed to the health professional you meet. Be sure that the health professional is aware if the person has expressed suicidal thoughts to you or if they have self-harmed. Your friend may not be as clear with a health professional as they were with you, or may suggest that they are feeling much better now.
Talk to the health professional
- If the health professional does not allow you to accompany the individual during their consultation, request an opportunity to speak with them afterwards if possible. Use this time to give them as much information as you have.
Ask about supports available
- Ask for clear information on support options available. If your loved one has suicidal thoughts, ask for information on managing the risk of suicide and for any supports available.
- Ask for their advice on how to keep the person safe, especially over the short-term. For example, if you need to remove medications from the house, can you bring them to the doctor or hospital for disposal.
Help is important
- Take all the help you are offered. You may have to look for it. Just because help is not handed to you it does not mean it is not needed, so do keep asking questions and asking for support
Remember to look after yourself
· Dealing with someone in distress can be really stressful and upsetting. Be mindful of the impact this will have on your own mental health and try take time to do something for yourself. Try not to deal with it on your own talk to someone you can trust who can help you support your friend through this difficult time. You can keep your friend’s confidentiality by not revealing names or identifying details but still confide in someone you trust to help you get the support needed.
Take all the help you are offered. You may have to look for it. Just because help is not handed to you it does not mean it is not needed, so do keep asking questions and asking for support