Did you know that 1 in 5 adults experience a mental health illness, and 17% of youth experience a mental health disorder? These statistics can help us understand and raise awareness that someone in our life is struggling with mental health problems.
In order to help someone, it may be beneficial to know some warning signs. Although this is not an exhaustive list, it can help us start to keep an eye out for those who could need support. These signs may look like:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Extreme mood changes
- Feeling excessively sad or “low”
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Overuse of substances like drugs or alcohol
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
After we have seen some warning signs or think someone might be struggling, how can we help and support them?
1) ACTIVE LISTENING
Let the person know you are there to listen without any distractions or judgment. You can do this by looking them in the eye, not interrupting, and giving a simple head nod to show you are engaged. Be prepared to let them share as little or as much as they want– it’s not about digging for specifics, but creating a space for them to share what’s going on.
2) DON’T COMPARE
You might feel the urge to share about a common experience you had, but this can be invalidating to the person sharing. Each person can have a different experience for the same situation.
3) CONVERSATION STARTERS
Talking about mental health is a hard topic for some people to approach. Having some conversation starters in the back of your mind can help give you confidence. It can sound like this, “I am someone who cares and wants to listen, and I noticed you may be going through a tough time. Would you like to talk to me about it?” Or, you can actively help by saying something like, “It seems like you are going through a difficult time. Would you like me to help you find help?”
4) KNOW WHEN MORE HELP IS NEEDED
It’s important that we know our limits to helping someone in need. Don’t be afraid to encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional. Offer to help them find a provider if needed. If the person you are talking to seems to be in immediate danger to themselves or others, call 911. Trained crisis counselors are also available 24/7 by texting “MHA” to 741-741 or calling 1-800-273-TALK(8255).
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health problems, we at Heartland Therapy Connection are here to help. If you’re looking at our website to help a friend, try sending them our website. Let them know we offer 15-minute consultations to get to know their therapist before they begin. Or, help them reach out to us by calling or sending a message to get started!