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Recognising signs and signals

All sorts of different things can indicate that someone may need extra support.

Being aware of the signs and signals – for yourself as well as other people – gives you the best chance of taking action before things get out of hand.

We’re all different and we all respond to pressure and stress in different ways.

Sometimes the signs and signals are quite obvious, wile other people will do everything they can to appear ‘normal’ and in control.

So it’s important to look for subtle changes in behaviour as well as obvious indicators. And even if everything seems fine, if you feel uneasy about someone’s wellbeing then trust your gut instinct and ask if they’re OK.

Signs that someone may not be okay might include:

  • Feeling restless and agitated
  • Feeling tearful
  • Not wanting to talk to or be with people
  • Not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
  • Not replying to messages or being distant

You might not always be able to spot these signs, especially as people start to physically self-isolate. These emotions show up differently in everyone, and they may be more difficult to spot if you’re seeing less of the people you’re close to.

Sometimes people say things which might help you recognise they are struggling to cope. 

They might:

  • Make leading statements, such as ‘You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through’ or ‘It’s like the whole world is against me’. People sometimes say these things in the hope you will pick up on them and ask what they mean so that they can talk about it.
  • Make negative statements about themselves, such as ‘Oh, no one loves me’, or ‘I’m a waste of space’, even if it sounds like they are joking.

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