Almost 53 million American adults have been diagnosed with a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. That’s 21% of our population. Beyond official diagnoses, anyone can struggle with peaks and valleys in their mental health. Although you are not responsible for others’ mental health, there are productive and healthy ways you can offer support to those who may be struggling.
Be intentional about your conversations.
Ask non-accusatory and gentle open-ended questions:
- “I’ve noticed you’ve seemed worried lately – what’s up?” instead of “Why are you being so moody all of a sudden?”
- Don’t overshadow someone else’s feelings with your feelings about their feelings.
- “Let’s talk about how you’re feeling” instead of “Do you have to make this such a big deal?”
- Start from a broad base, especially if this is your first talk about a situation.
- “How about we set up a coffee date every Saturday morning to talk?” instead of “Well, let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
- Coming up with solid plans takes the pressure off someone who’s struggling. Making an abstract non-specific offer can often feel the same as being assigned another chore. Take the lead.
Just be there.
When someone is in a low period, they might feel like they’re not able to provide anything fun or be socially effervescent, so they withdraw more. Let your friend know that you have no expectations to be entertained – you just want to spend time together.
Advocate for professional support.
Mental health professionals have the skills, training, and objectivity to provide help in a way that no friend or family member can replicate. If your friend seems receptive, encourage them to consider making an appointment. Remind loved ones that there is no stigma in seeing a mental health professional – in fact, there have been significant increases in demand for mental health services during and post COVID.
Cultivate a perspective of generous understanding.
We don’t always comprehend the full scope of what someone is dealing with, or how those struggles affect their feelings and interactions with the world. Something that may feel slightly irritating to one person could be deeply upsetting to another. Understanding how these unique calibrations could heighten someone’s response is a beneficial form of empathetic connection.
Take care of yourself.
Being in the trenches with someone who’s hurting can be hard. It’s important to set your own boundaries so you can rest, process, and recharge. Nurture your own internal and external support system by:
- Making time to be active at a level that works for you.
- Doing something that connects your brain with your hands – cooking, crochet, painting, a word search, or anything else requiring sustained focus.
- Keeping in touch with friends and family, even if it’s just exchanging some quick texts or memes.
Physical health is a vital part of mental health. The primary care providers at Roseman Medical Group are committed to working with each patient to put together the best treatment plan possible. Contact us at 702-463-4040 to schedule an appointment.