Supportive couple taking a camping trip together

See the Signs

People who are suffering from a mental health or substance use condition may show that they need help before they are able to ask for it. Close friends and family members are sometimes the first to notice changes in mood or behavior that may mean it's time to get some help.

Here are some things to watch out for:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24/7:


  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Sneaking around
  • Withdrawing from people
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of interest in people or activities
  • New problems with the law or at school
  • Inability to focus
  • Trembling or shaking

Warning signs of suicide: Talking about or planning suicide, giving away posessions, withdrawing from people, hopelessness. Read more

Take threats of suicide seriously. Most people who consider suicide don't actually want to die. They see suicide as a solution to a problem or a way to end pain. Don't be afraid to talk to someone who might be considering suicide. Giving someone a safe space to talk won't make them have suicidal thoughts or make them more likely to act. Many people who attempt suicide feel alone. Being able to talk about how they're feeling makes them feel less so.

How to Help

Educate yourself

If you are concerned about a loved one, or someone you care about has been diagnosed, you should learn as much as you can.

Learn more about some common mental health conditions and misused substances:

Fight stigma

People sometimes have negative views about things they don't understand, such as a mental health or substance use condition. This is called stigma.

Some people may think that experiencing or talking about a mental health or substance use condition is a sign of weakness. They may think someone who is suffering should "just get over it" on their own. Sometimes, people might just feel uncomfortable around someone who is experiencing a mental health condition.

You may even feel some of these things yourself.

People with a mental health or substance use issues can get better, but buying into stigma isn't going to help. Ignoring what's going on or blaming the person won't make it go away. Remember that what your loved one is going through is a disease. That means it's manageable and it's nobody's fault. Reach out to a support group so you can talk to people who are going through the same thing you are.  

Encourage treatment

Treatment works. If you have permission, you can help your friend of family member with their treatment.

  • Help the person set up and get to visits with a doctor or other health professional
  • Help the person manage medicines
  • Know the side effects of medicines and contact the doctor if needed
  • Remind the person that medicine is important and that the dose or medicine can be changed to reduce or get rid of side effects

Support your loved one

A person who is experiencing a mental health or substance use condition may feel alone, scared, or ashamed. Your support can help them as they recover.

  • Listen when the person wants to talk, even if the topic is difficult
  • Avoid giving advice that wasn't asked for 
  • Urge the person to continue treatment 
  • Keep your relationship as normal as you can
  • Don't pretend that the issue doesn't exist
  • Ask the person to do things with you 
  • Ask what you can do to help in daily life 
  • Try not to take things personally 

SAMHSA: Resources for Families Coping with Mental and Substance Use Disorders

Take Care of Yourself

Helping someone who is managing a mental health or substance use condition isn't easy. Make sure you're taking care of yourself so you can help take care of your loved one.

  • Do things you enjoy, such as seeing family or going to movies.
  • Don't help too much. Even if they don't admit it, people like to help themselves. Take some time off.
  • Don't do it alone. Support groups are a great way to connect, ask questions, and get help.

We understand that being a caregiver can take a toll on your own mental health. If you're feeling some changes in your outlook, ask any of our providers for a depression screening. They will evaluate you at no charge, even if you aren't a CHPW member.