Public less likely to help person crying than if knocked to ground, finds survey

People are much less likely to assist a person crying in the street than to help someone knocked to the ground, survey results claim.

This is because people lack the knowledge and confidence to react to distress, according to a leading mental health charity.

Of 2,001 British adults questioned by the Mental Health Foundation 92% said they would stop and help someone physically hurt. Only 51% would offer to help someone crying.

The survey also found 24 per cent of people wouldn’t know what to do or say if someone close to them had worries about their own mental health.

There are concerns that depression and anxiety – particularly among men – is increasing because of the recession

To help the public in knowing what to do to assist people in distress the charity today launched a “Mental Health First Aid for All” campaign around England.

The charity said that later this year it will launch an online information service on mental health first aid. This will provide advice to those who want to know how to help a friend, loved one or colleague in a crisis.

The charity argues that mental health first aid – including listening and reassurance – can be a “lifesaver”.

The charity states the five basic steps of mental health first aid are: assess risk of suicide or self-harm, listen non-judgmentally, give reassurance and information, encourage the person to seek help, and encourage self-help.

Celia Richardson, campaigns director at the Mental Health Foundation, said: “During the economic downturn increasing numbers will find themselves unemployed and facing debt – circumstances that can result in depression and anxiety.

“Reaching out can really help someone who’s having a hard time, whether it be a friend, colleague or stranger on the street. It could even stop a person from taking their own life.

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