With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, supporting others during these tough times is essential. It is important that as we continue to protect ourselves by supporting our loved ones. While 1 in 5 people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition in their lives, 5 out of 5 people will go through a challenging time that affects their mental health.
There are simple things that every person can say or do to help the people in their life who are struggling to get through the tough times.
Here are some ways you can help:
- Practice active listening.
Active listening is different than just hearing what a person has to say. Create space and give your full attention to the person who is talking. They say we have two ears, and one mouth for a reason.
- Ask what you can do.
It is attempting to assume we know what might be helpful for someone who is struggling, but it is always better to ask what they need from you. And many people may offer a response like “I’m fine or nothing”, so you can offer few suggestions without being pushy.
- Don’t compare.
If a friend or a loved one is going through a tough situation, be careful not to compare their experience to your similar experience because it can make someone feel like their pain isn’t valid. Focus on things that you can offer that has helped you cope.
- Keep your word.
If you have offered your support to someone and told them you would do something, keep your word. If you absolutely can’t honor your promise, make a sincere apology and find another time that you can do what you said you would.
- Don’t judge.
To be truly supportive of someone, you need to put your personal opinions and biases aside. They may be struggling because of a mistake that they made, or you may think that they are overreacting, but you will never know what it is truly like to be that person in this moment.
- Offer to join them.
When someone is going through a time of sadness or uncertainty, their emotions can take over and leave them feeling paralyzed and unable to take care of life’s obligations. Offering to go with someone to help them take care of responsibilities like walking the dog, or going to the grocery store, can help them feel a sense of accomplishment and lift their spirits.
- Know when more serious help is needed.
Sometimes the support that you can offer won’t be enough. If you notice that your friend or loved one continues to struggle after weeks or months, they may be showing signs of a mental health condition and likely need professional help.
Don’t be afraid to encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional and offer to help them find a provider if needed.
Southwest Counseling Service and Sweetwater County Prevention want to remind you of the following resources:
Together WE can make it through this.
Southwest Counseling Service on-call services are available and operating 24 hours-7 days a week: (307) 352-6677
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org
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