Five Ways To Support Mental Health
We need to have the conversation. Yes, the conversation. I know you’d much rather tuck it into your pocket or hide it behind a wall. Perhaps you merely observe from the outside, peering into someone’s most vulnerable state of mind, as a seed of guilt burrows deep in your subconsciousness. You might think you’re out of your depth, and they are too far down into the abyss for you to catch them.
If you’re not in the statistics of people struggling with mental illness, chances are, you know at least one important person in your life who is.
They are your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your coworkers. So, when someone close to you confides in you that they need help, you panic, thinking: what can I do?
Relax. Breathe. Healing is never a linear process.
Here are five simple tasks you can implement in your daily life.
1. Educate yourself.
You cannot grow as a person if you stop learning. So, when your friend comes clean about their struggles with depression, take it a step further—go online or visit the library. Conduct your own research, expand your knowledge. Your effort will not go unnoticed.
It really is that simple, folks. Many people listen to hear, not understand. Being approachable and trustworthy is worth its weight in gold to someone struggling with mental illness. Keep your mind open, be honest with your own reactions, and always remember you are there to support them, not “fix” them.
3. Ask The Right Questions.
Many people like to ask why something is the way it is; this is not the appropriate question baseline to ask someone in the workings of their mental health. It comes across as judgmental, and that is the opposite of what you want. Ask what and how rather than the why.
4. Be A Connection.
The first step is always the hardest, and for many people with mental illness, that first step to therapy feels impossible. If you are their closest supporter, take their hand and bridge the gap. Nudge them toward outward support groups, informative articles, and others they can meet in person to share stories.
5. Speak up when others are disrespectful or insensitive.
Stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves.
When someone blames a severe mental illness as an obvious excuse to avoid responsibility (“Oh, my god, I’m so borderline,” or “Sorry, that was my other personality that said that.”), speak up. People who use derogatory terms for the mentally ill will only further the shame felt by those in the community. When you speak up, they feel heard and respected, and that can mean the world to them.
There are numerous little ways you can help not only your loved ones but, in turn, the whole community as a whole. Your voice can help theirs be amplified and heard. Don’t immediately turn away when the going gets tough—that’s the exact moment to stand firm and say: “I’m not going anywhere. Tell me how I can help you.”