4 Ways To Listen to Someone's Mental Health Story
Many of us forget that we all possess one of the most effective tools to aid someone experiencing a mental health crisis: Listening.
Here are 4 ways you can make a difference through your power of listening.
Informational Listening (Listening to Learn)
Listening to learn something new or unfamiliar.
Whenever you listen to learn something, you are engaged in informational listening. The focus of informational listening is taking in new facts and being receptive to new information.
Active Listening (Listening to Respond)
Listening and responding to another person to improve mutual understanding.
One of the most common forms of listening we come across, active listening usually includes engaging and responding while listening. As an active listener, we often listen to respond.
Non-judgmental Listening (Listening to Understand or Empathize)
Listening with the intention to understand another.
For situations where someone is experiencing symptoms of a mental health crisis, there is another kind of listening that can be more effective: empathetic listening. For a person experiencing a mental health problem, having an empathetic listener can be calming and reassuring – even healing.
Empathy, unlike sympathy, does not mean we agree with the other person or see things from the same point of view. Instead, it requires taking a moment to step outside of our normal patterns of thinking and feeling to imagine what it feels like to be the person in front of us.
Hear with your heart, learn what to look for.
Mental health challenges, like all physical health conditions, have their own specific set of symptoms that show up during challenging seasons. An important part of being supportive through listening is understanding how the symptoms impact people we love and trying not to judge them because of it.
Source: Mental Health First Aid & American Psychological Association (APA)