There’s a certain stigma that comes along with mental health issues. It’s completely unnecessary and totally unfair. When people deal with physical issues like cancer, the flu or high cholesterol, they’re handled with care. When people deal with mental health issues, they’re ridiculed and pushed aside. However, mental health is a very real issue that needs to be addressed and handled.

If you know someone who struggles with mental health issues, it’s important to make sure you become intentional with how you interact with them. Whether it’s a friend, family member or co-worker, here are a few things you’ll want to do to engage and help them out.

1. Encourage Them to Get Professional Help

One of the most helpful ways to deal with mental health issues is to go to consistent therapy sessions led by an expert with a counseling degree. Whether the sessions are weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, it’s important to sit down with a mental health professional. They’ve been trained through education, practicums and experience within the field. They’ll know how to handle your loved one better than you can. Encourage the person to seek out the help of a therapist. If they’re reluctant, talk about how it’s completely normal; it can remain private and it will truly help them in the long run.

2. Empathize

There will come a time when your loved one will want to vent. Decide how much you can handle and how long you’re willing to listen to their venting sessions. But, always maintain a level of love and empathy for their process. If you’re someone they trust, you’ve been let into their life in a very intimate way. Respectfully create your boundaries for your own sanity, but be willing to empathize with their struggle.

3. Support with Your Presence

Consider spending an afternoon with the person. Find out what their favorite activity is. Try to spend time doing that activity with them. It’ll help lift their spirits and help them feel like they have someone who cares about them. When people feel less alone, they are more likely to hang in there and work through their struggles.

4. Keep the Right Numbers on Speed Dial

Schizophrenia, depression and other mental illnesses will force people into some really dangerous situations. Always keep the right numbers on speed dial. If your loved one discloses that they’re struggling with mental health issues, put the numbers of a trusted mental health professional (with certifications and degrees), the localhospital and a suicide hotline on their phone. Keep it on your phone as well. When you have those numbers available, you’ll be able to access them in the case of an emergency.

Keep in mind that you can never be anyone’s savior. They have to decide to get help for themselves. However, you can be a catalyst to help point them in the right direction. By creating a safe space and utilizing these tips, you can help change a person’s life forever.