Ways to Respond to Someone's Mental Health Story
- When we don’t understand how to provide support for someone who is living with a mental health challenge, we may become overwhelmed. With the right information, we can manage our own emotions and navigate conversations compassionately.
Embrace empathy and validation
- While we may not completely understand what someone is experiencing, we can all demonstrate empathy. When the people in our lives sense genuine care and concern, we increase the chance that they’ll be vulnerable enough to reach out to us in their times of need.
- Embracing empathy and validation could sound like: “I understand that you’re angry right now, that must be difficult.”
Resist the urge to say “try harder.”
- If your friend or family member was having an asthma attack, would you say things like “Try harder at breathing”? While we may be frustrated with the pace of progress, the road of recovery is different for every individual. Mental health challenges are not overcome by strength of will. We can assist by identifying resources that are useful, and by presenting options (such as therapy, books, or websites).
- Coming from a place of support vs."try harder" could sound like: “Is there anything that may have helped you before?”
Source: Mental Health First Aid