Mental Health Ally
Mental Health Ally is the support system for a Mental Health Warrior, someone who is experiencing a challenging time. Mental Health Allies typically are the friends, family and confidants and are not necessarily in the medical or health field. Many of us, who are the Mental Health Allies also currently struggle or have struggled with our own mental or emotional issues in the past and are willing to help those who are going through the similar situation.
Understand & Empathize
It’s OK not to know what to say at first. Just being present, listen and lend a non-judgmental ear is enough. Plan to approach the person with an open-mind and to be calm about what is being shared with you. Let the person share their feelings; it’s not time to share your perception or conclusion about the matter.
Start the Conversation
Early on in the conversation, understand the person’s immediate need by asking “do you want me to help find a solution or do you want me to listen?” Sometimes, the person just wants to talk through how they are feeling and what they are going through just to sort things out in their head. Understanding this expectation upfront can prevent frustration for the both of you.
Here are some conversation starters you can use:
“You haven’t been yourself lately. Do you want to talk?”
“I think you need a hug today. Anything on your mind that you’d like to talk about?”
“We haven’t talked in a while. Have you been doing OK?”
“We’ve been friends for a long time. And I know when there’s something on your mind. Do you want to talk?”
“You know I’m always here for you. Let me know if you ever want to talk, OK?”
Find the Appropriate Help
Sometimes, all you need is to know that someone cares and listens. But other times, situations are more dire, and a professional help is needed immediately. If you sense that your loved one needs a professional support, please call 988 right away. 988 is the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and can also be utilized by support systems when you don't know what to do.
Share Your Story
Your story can help someone else going through the similar situation and may help understand how important it is to reach out to someone who needs help. Or it could give them some tips on how to get help.