Sharing my story has opened up the door for so many people to reach to me for help. And it’s been amazing.
But you guys, I can’t help everyone. And I need your help.
We need to create safe environments for our friends and loved ones to share their feelings. Otherwise, they’ll keep to themselves and they will never ever get better. And we don’t want that. We love these people.
Mental health knows no race or gender or social class. There is no way to know who is struggling unless they take a very bold and scary step of letting us know. So let’s make that step easier for them.
Put this on your Facebook. Or Insta. Or wherever you do social media things. Let the people in your life know that you’re ready to help if they ever need it. I promise they won’t forget.
BUT. Before you go out saving the world, which I’m so glad you’re doing by the way, here’s some advice. Or really, some rules, for becoming a safe space. We’re not professionals, remember? Unless you are, in which case, awesome.
- Listen. Just sit there and let all their feels come out. No judgements or advice. No recommendations on feeling better (unless they ask) and just listen. If you struggle with empathy, I recommend sticking to a concerned face and head nods, and you can use phrases like “That’s so hard. I’m so sorry.”
- Thank them. Reinforce their awesome behavior of sharing their thoughts.
- Make them comfortable. Give them food and a warm blanket. Do whatever they like to do to feel safe and comfy. I like candles and a funny movie and pizza. So maybe just try that. And then sit with them.
- Offer to help them find someone to talk to. Search the interwebz for a counselor covered by their insurance. College students, you have access to free counseling.
- Ask them if they have a plan. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT SO PAY ATTENTION. Never ever ever ever ever take a suicidal comment lightly. If they mention they want to end their life, ask them if you can take them to the hospital. If they say no, call the police. And if you’ve forgotten, the police can be reached at 9-1-1. If they are alluding to the idea of not being alive anymore, ask them if they have a plan for how they’d like to end their life. If they have one, ask them if you can take them to the hospital. If they say no, call the police.
We can’t fix everyone. But we can make finding help easier. Just by being available. By keeping our arms and eyes open to hurt. By sacrificing some time to listen.