Dealing with mental health issues can be a scary experience. And sometimes, knowing what to say or do in a moment of weakness and vulnerability for a good friend or family member can be difficult in these circumstances. Simply feeling as though they have someone with them can sometimes be all that one person needs to feel more calm.
Caring for ones mental health has not always been a popular subject or even one readily accepted and addressed on its importance by health care professionals until a handful of decades ago. It was as if the medical field worked in black and white only. You either had a physical ailment or you had a mental issue. There wasn’t an acknowledged in-between or grey area when it came to treating a patient. And, in general, a lot of people were just uncomfortable speaking about their mental health because of the stigma they felt was attached to it. A lot of people would rather suffer alone and in silence than to reach out for fear of being labelled as “crazy” or “mentally unstable”, which could lead to a drastic change in the lens through which others viewed them and their health. Needless to say, it was scary to help another individual deal with mental health issues, but it was even scarier to be dealing with those mental health issues yourself and being afraid the whole world would turn on you if you weren’t careful.
Today, the diagnosis of a mental health issue doesn’t bring the feeling of fear and dread as profound as it used to, but there is still a fear of the unknown and how to deal with it. Below, I will be sharing a few tips on just how to be there for someone and provide support, regardless if there is a mental health diagnosis, a physical ailment that could affect the persons mental health, or any number of problems in between.
- Be prepared to just sit and listen
Sometimes just dealing with a mental health issue or other severe issue can take its toll. There are times when people want to just be heard. You don’t have to say anything special. Just letting someone know you are there and prepared to listen should they need that can mean so much.
2. Make your presence a “no-judgement zone”
People deal with things in very different ways. Someone diagnosed with cancer may want to immediately start trying to do all of the things on their bucket list, while someone else may just want to lay in bed and try to process what they were told. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, she needed a few days to process what she was told. And then she tried to be more outgoing. Trying to make her last months memorable for herself and the people around her.
Whatever you do, please make your presence a no-judgement zone. People go through things that they may not always share with others. There are struggles we all go through that are unique to us. Simply having someone’s friendship and knowing that you can talk to them without fear of judgement is another way to help friends and family feel as if they have a safe place to turn in their darkest moments.
3. Be willing to suggest professional help if you fear they are bordering on self-harm.
Being someone who has dealt personally with self-harm and suicide, I strongly advocate for being ready to offer assistance with getting professional help if you feel that they seem to be talking more about self-harm, suicide, or suicidal ideations. Someone showing that they care enough to mention it and really broach the subject could be all is needed when someone is screaming out for help while trying to remain silent.
4. If the mental health issues seem to be focused on anxiety, help them research coping strategies if they ask.
Sometimes, in our darkest moments, we aren’t sure how to ask for help or guidance. At times, we may not even know what we need or want. We just know we need help. And in the instance of anxiety, there are some great coping ideas and strategies that you can help them incorporate that may make a huge difference in their lives and the way they begin to deal with stressful situations.
5. Remind them that asking for help is not something to be ashamed of.
At times, we don’t ask for help because we feel as though we would become a bother or a burden to others. So we sit in silence. And in silence we get worse and worse. Trying to hide our struggle and internal turmoil.
Giving a simple reminder that they matter, they are important to you, and you are there if they should ever need help may be just what they need to hear.
Dealing with mental issues, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and so much more, can be a daunting task. You may not even know where to begin. But the point is that you are trying to find a starting point and you are making an attempt to either get or give help. Humans are very social creatures and that social connection may be all someone needs to help pull them back from that dark space in their head.
Don’t give up on yourself, and don’t give up on someone you love. Life is never easy. There are always struggles to go through, mountains to climb and valleys we feel we just get stuck in. But we don’t have to stay stuck and we no longer have to stay silent. There is light, there is hope and there is more love in this world than we could have ever imagined.
Be open to giving and receiving help. Yes, it’s scary. But it could also be life-saving!
Thanks for reading everyone!! God bless!!