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Depression and COVID-19: How to Help

27 August 2020

Often the right words or sentiments can make all the difference when someone is going through a challenging time, and now more than ever your loved ones may just need your support. Here’s what to do if you suspect a loved one has depression.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 pandemic could put more people at risk of mental health conditions such as depression. During these challenging times when people are isolated and away from their friends and loved ones, it’s expected that some may feel sad or anxious, and are struggling to cope with the new circumstances they find themselves in. Braais with friends have been cancelled, a regular scheduled family dinner has been placed on hold, and drinks with the guys or girls at the local coffee shop has gone virtual. This loss of freedom and the social-distancing rules have the potential to send some spiralling into depression.

Suspect Someone Has Depression?

So what do you do if a loved one’s behaviour has started to concern you? Most people aren’t comfortable sharing when they’re struggling with their mental health, but you can explore the following in order to show them you’re available and there to offer support.

  • Don’t make assumptions. They may simply be having a bad day or feeling anxious or stressed about a number of things, including the pandemic. Remember that everyone deals with stress differently, but you can still offer support.
  • Monitor their behaviour. Is their behaviour affecting you? Is it causing friction at home? Is it preventing the person from carrying on with daily activities? If the answer to any of these is yes, take the steps below:
    • Inform yourself. Find out more about depression. For example, the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reputable sources which suggest that some common signs of depression include recurring feelings of sadness and hopelessness, isolating oneself and frequent negative thoughts or comments.
    • Know your boundaries. If you think you’re reading the signs correctly, think about whether you’re the best person to speak to them. It might be a different family member’s responsibility.
    • Follow their lead. Don’t confront the person head-on. Rather address the impact their behaviour is having on their family and relationships. Then give them a chance to share. Don’t push them if they aren’t ready or comfortable.
    • Listen without judgment. Don’t judge and refrain from giving advice. Focus on building trust instead.
    • Encourage discussion. Let them know that it’s okay to share what they’re going through and that you are a shoulder if they need one.
    • Offer support. Ask them what you can do to provide support. This will empower them and will show you aren’t forcing them into anything.

When to Get Help

While you may not want to break your loved one’s trust (and shouldn’t, if you can help it), there are certain cases where you should ask for support from a mental health professional. These include:

  • Scenario 1: If you’re concerned that they may be a danger to themselves or others
  • Scenario 2: If you don’t think you’re the right person to address the situation – for example, you’re not that close

This article is published courtesy of CareWays.

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
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