Mental Health: 4 Ways To Help Those Struggling

Mental Health: 4 Ways To Help Those Struggling

May is upon us – and that means National Mental Health Month is here. Each year, we use this time to raise awareness, reduce the stigma, and most crucially – offer hope.

Despite how common mental health issues are—some 1 in 4 Americans are affected—the stigma remains. Unfortunately, this is often one of the primary factors that keep people from getting the help they so desperately need.

Mental Health Statistics

This year alone, over 47 million of us are reportedly experiencing some form of mental illness, according to Mental Health Alliance, a US-based non-profit. As common as they are—judging by the numbers—mental health issues often remain taboo or shameful and often elicit little of the empathy and support shown to those suffering from physical ailments, like cancer or heart disease.

Although the conversation surrounding mental health has become more open and frequent in recent years, with A-list celebrities like Selena Gomez opening up about their challenges, we’ve still got a long way to go as a culture, and while many individuals and organizations have helped move the needle, outdated beliefs persist.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the stigma surrounding mental health can lead to a sense of disconnection from one’s family and friends, fewer work opportunities, bullying, and more.

At its worst, the stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need. For those who are suffering, this added roadblock can be a life-and-death issue. And while we are grateful for the growing awareness of mental health issues, more can be done.

Thankfully, there is something each of us can do to make things better for those who are suffering. Read on for some ways you can help:

Educate Yourself

One of the most crucial things you can do to help people facing mental health challenges is to educate yourself. Learn about different mental health conditions, their symptoms, and available treatment options. This knowledge will help you understand what individuals may be going through, and how to respond to them, and enable you to offer informed support.

There are various resources available, such as books, websites, and reputable organizations, that provide accurate and reliable information about mental health. By educating yourself, you can break down misconceptions, challenge stigma, and approach the topic with real empathy and understanding.

Be a Good Listener

Sometimes, all a person needs is a much-needed outlet and the reassurance that they are not alone in their struggles. Actively listening to someone facing mental health challenges can provide them with a sense of validation and support. Here are a few tips to be an effective listener:

  • Create a safe and comfortable space for them to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Give them your undivided attention, maintaining eye contact and non-verbal cues.
  • Avoid interrupting or offering immediate solutions. Instead, focus on understanding their perspective and emotions
  • Practice empathy by acknowledging their experiences and validating their feelings.

Offer Practical Support

Practical support can lighten the burden people face when struggling with their mental health. Practical assistance can be lifesaving:

  • Help them find professional help: Offer a hand in finding mental health resources, therapists, or support groups in their area. Offer to help them as they navigate the often intimidating healthcare system and to accompany them to appointments if they feel overwhelmed.
  • Assist with daily tasks: Offer to help with errands, household chores, or childcare responsibilities during challenging times. These small acts can make a massive difference and relieve some of their stress.
  • Encourage self-care: Encourage them to look after themselves with healthy habits such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, and balanced nutrition. Offer to engage in self-care activities together, such as going for a walk or practicing mindfulness exercises.

Be Supportive and Non-judgmental

One of the most critical aspects of supporting someone with mental health challenges is creating an environment that is supportive and non-judgmental. Here are some ways to foster such an atmosphere:

  • Avoid stigmatizing language: Use inclusive and respectful language when discussing mental health. Avoid derogatory terms or stereotypes that perpetuate stigma.
  • Validate their experiences: Acknowledge their emotions and experiences without dismissing or minimizing them. Let them know that their feelings are valid and that you are there to support them. You do not need to solve their problem.
  • Encourage open dialogue: Create a safe space for open conversations about mental health. Express your willingness to listen and provide a non-judgmental space for them to share their thoughts and concerns.

Supporting individuals facing mental health issues requires empathy, tons of patience, and understanding. But it is worth it! You can play a vital role in their well-being and recovery. Your support can make a huge difference in someone’s journey, reminding them that they are not alone and that a brighter future is possible.

​​As ever, the team at SLO Recovery is here to help. We offer primary mental health care in a safe, supportive environment. Get in touch to see how we can support you or someone who needs it.