How to support your loved ones through mental health challenges

If the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of supporting each other in times of crisis. If you have a loved one who is struggling with mental health needs, here are a few steps you can take to connect and help:

Familiarize yourself with the warning signs of mental health issues:
Although someone may not always exhibit signs, there are a few behavior changes to look out for, such as withdrawal from social interaction, unusual problems functioning at school or work, or dramatic changes in sleep and appetite. Other times, an individual may overtly mention feeling overwhelmed or struggling, in which case the best support you can provide is being an empathetic ear.

Educate yourself on strategies to respond to mental health needs:
Comprehensive Healthcare offers Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid – training programs that prepare community members to identify, understand, and respond to people exhibiting signs of mental health issues or risk of suicide in adults and youth. Training programs like these are important tools for community members to feel empowered to assist others in their families, friend groups, workplaces, schools, and other community settings.

Learn about available treatment options:
Finding the right treatment for yourself or a loved one begins with a thorough assessment. Once treatment has started, we encourage support from those who can help on the journey to mental wellness. Another helpful tool you can access on your own is a Safety Plan, which is a set of precautionary measures and procedures that you create to prepare yourself or a loved one for a crisis.

Fill your cup first:
As important as it is to care for loved ones, caring for the mental wellbeing of oneself is also critical to be able to support others. It’s sort of like the image of putting on your own air mask on a flight before helping others. It’s important to cultivate your own support system and be honest about your ability to show up for someone else. When more support is needed and you are honest about your emotional state, you can be more prepared to reach out to a behavioral healthcare provider or a supportive friend or hotline supporter.

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