Hey everyone! Welcome to this week’s post. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. With that in mind, I decided to dedicate the last 2 posts of this month to talking about Mental Health. Last year, I shared some tips to boost your mental health. This year, I’m going in a different direction.
Growing up, I saw my uncle struggle with his mental health. If my memory serves me right, he struggled with depression. I was really young then so I didn’t fully understand what was wrong. All I knew was he was “sick” because that’s what I was told.
He would go to the hospital regularly for check ups and was on medication for quite a while. Thinking back, I believe he got the help he needed medically but from the family, not so much. Some comments should have never been made and then maybe certain reactions could have been avoided.
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However, I’m so glad that the conversation of mental health is one that is being held more frequently. At the time my uncle struggled with depression, I was too young to understand it and I didn’t know how to help. I’ll go out on a limb and say some people in my family didn’t know how to help either. From that experience and many experiences after, as well as things I’ve read, I will share some things to keep in mind when helping someone with mental health issues.
I will leave links to different articles and sources I used to help me put this together at the end of the post.
Let them talk when they are ready
If you’re going to talk to someone about whatever mental health issues they may be facing, it’s important to remember to let people talk about things when they are ready or when they are comfortable talking about whatever it is.
Putting pressure on someone or forcing someone to talk about whatever they are going through may actually do more harm than good. It is understandable that you want to help but remember that in that moment, it is not about you at all. It’s about your friend, family member or whoever it is who needs the help. It may take some time before someone feels comfortable to tell you something or trust you enough to talk to you about it. Be patient.
Be sure to listen
Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them. Let them know you are actively listening and where you don’t understand what they are saying, ask them to elaborate just so you can really understand and so that they know you are listening and understanding.
Sometimes, our little comments or pieces of advice should be kept for a later time. Let people actually talk and/or offload what they need to. Your job may only be to listen.
Avoid talking too much or cracking unnecessary jokes.
Be mindful of what you say
“You are not the only one going through that.” and “Just pray about it.” are some things to avoid saying. Do not invalidate someone’s feelings or state. Our words carry so much weight. Sometimes, we mean well but mess it up with the delivery. So be mindful of what you say to someone who talks to you about their mental health issues. In any case, one of the best ways to go about things, especially if you don’t know what to say, is just to ask how you can help.
Also, in day-to-day conversations, online and anywhere else you may interact with others, be mindful of what you say. There are times, you cannot easily tell that someone is struggling with their mental health. Kindness goes a very long way.
Are you in a position to help or not?
If you are reading this, there is a very high chance you are not a therapist, counselor or any kind of medical expert. You are in no position to diagnose any one’s condition. With that said, when you see you are not in a position to help or you are unable to help, please encourage your friend to get professional help or help them find someone else to talk to. At the end of the day, there is only so much you can do.
I’ve only brought up four points but there are many other things to keep in mind or consider when you are helping struggling with mental health. What are more ways to help someone struggling with a mental health issue? What are some things to keep in mind?
Let’s remember to look after ourselves as we we look out for others! Also, if you’re struggling with your mental health, please reach out to someone.
Thanks for reading! Look out for next week’s post.
Check out these articles for more information on Mental Health and how to help someone with a mental health issue: