By: Natalia Garcia Luna
Hey everyone! I hope you’ve had an excellent week. Today, I will be talking about supporting a friend or family member who is going through hard times. When we go through hard times, we always feel safer when we can trust some friends. Sometimes, we might not even know that our loved ones are going through hardships, but it is important to show that you can be trusted. If you are aware that there is an issue in a loved one’s life, it is important to act fast and not wait. When you need to talk to someone about their mental health, there are a few steps you should follow.
- Try to set time aside with no distractions so your loved one can feel like they have a non-judgmental place where they can express themselves and their concerns.
- Do not interrupt when they are speaking. Let them share as much or as little as they’d like. Do not pressure them into speaking about something they are not ready to speak about.
- Do not try to diagnose or tell them they are wrong. They are at their most vulnerable state and do not need judgment from someone who is not specialized in mental health. Do not try to make assumptions or diagnoses about them.
- Try to keep the questions open-ended and keep your language very neutral. Never pressure your loved one to answer questions they are not ready to answer.
- Some things you can say instead of “calm down” are:
- I’m here for you
- How can I help?
- You are safe here with me
- I am here to listen
- Take your time
- It’s okay
- Or say nothing at all!
- Give them tips on de-stressing and distracting the mind. Some of these tips can include:
- Working out
- Adapting a healthy diet
- Reading a new book
- Always listen carefully to what they tell you. Demonstrate that you understand what they are telling you, even if you don’t agree.
- Offer them help in seeking professional support and provide information on ways to do this. You can also help them talk to another family member or friend, but steer away from taking control and making decisions for them.
- Always be aware of your limits. If you believe they are in immediate danger or they have injuries that need medical attention, you need to take action to make sure they are safe.
- Ask what you can do to help.
- Avoid confrontation.
Always remember that people won’t always want to talk to you because of how hard it is, so you should not take this personally.
If a loved one tells you they feel they are feeling suicidal, you should encourage them to seek immediate help. On December 13, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission approved the plan for a 3-digit suicide prevention number similar to 911 starting in 2022. The number will be 988. But for now, many hotlines are available, such as 1-800-273-TALK.
Always know that if you need someone to talk to, you can contact us! Even though we are not medical professionals, we can always be there to listen.