How to help people suffering from depression: tips for friends and family to support loved ones

How to help people suffering from depression: tips for friends and family to support loved ones

  • Most of us know at least one person who’s struggling with their mental health. Reaching out to them can make a lot more difference than you think
  • Here are some useful tips on the best ways to show comfort and understanding

When Singaporean Chris Tan suffered from an acute stroke at the age of 33, his life took a turn for the worse. He lost the use of his left hand – his dominant hand – and had to relearn even the simplest tasks, like feeding himself and buttoning his shirt.That same year, in 2005, Tan began having suicidal thoughts. He also experienced chronic insomnia and felt hopeless about his future.

When the emotional struggle became too much to bear, Tan sought professional help and was diagnosed with clinical depression. He had cognitive behavioural therapy with a psychotherapist, but any improvement in his mental health was short-lived.

His depression worsened after he lost both his job and his marriage. His general practitioner, sensing that his life was in danger, referred him to the Institute of Mental Health in Singapore for outpatient treatment. There, Tan got the help he needed, which included medication for his depression.