Articles

Boundaries

1 November 2014 1 minute read

Helping and supporting someone with a mental health problem can be a time consuming and draining endeavour. It uses up a lot of internal resources, and can leave you feeling overstretched and in need of support yourself.

Putting some boundaries in place before you begin to help can be really useful. Boundaries can be viewed as simple steps we take to protect ourselves from becoming too emotionally involved with those we are seeking to help. They also serve to help the person take responsibility for working through their problems themselves. It does not do anyone any favours if you try to sort everything out for them. This helps to ensure that we can support more effectively.

So, for example, it is really useful to put time limits in place when supporting someone who is struggling with their mental health. If they come to talk things through with you, make sure you let them know that an hour is the maximum time you can spend with them in one session. It is not possible to solve people??s problems by spending all day with them, unless there is a genuine crisis.It is ok to have limits, and also to put quite strict limits in place, especially if you are new to this sort of thing.

It is also important to remember that you are not indispensable. Share the load with others who are also able to help and support. Do not fall into the trap of believing that you are the only helper who can truly help properly. This is rarely the case, and it is much better to share the helping so that no one becomes burnt out by too much exposure to strong emotions.