By: Jennifer Robinson, MSW, RSW
Below are some helpful tips on how you can assist someone who may need to access professional help!
Educate - Do the research on the benefits of accessing support and share your research with your friend/family member or speak to them on behalf of personal experiences. Sometimes when we are unaware of what to expect we can scare ourselves into expecting the worst which might mean we avoid situations that can actually be really helpful to us.
You can show the individual the website to a counseling agency, show them pictures of what the office will look like and even walk them through what to expect if they did choose to go access support. If you’ve had a personal experience with counseling- tell them how this went! What benefits came from it? What was difficult? This can help someone feel more prepared to access help and allows them to feel supported through this process.
Listen- Sometimes we undermine the impact of listening. When our friends/family come to us with a problem we are quick to find a solution when sometimes all they need is to feel heard. Take the time to listen to how they are feeling, validate the feelings they may be experiencing and be present in the moment.
Offer Your Support- Be accepting and understanding by normalizing their need to seek help- it’s common! It’s important to have support when going through a tough time. Be there for them as a friend- Offer to drive them to their first visit or follow up with them after they go to see how it went.
Model Positive Self-Care Behaviors- Showing that you care about your own mental health may allow your friend/family member to feel empowered to do the same. Show them that you are taking time to engage in activities that bring you joy, that you are taking care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually and share what the benefits of this have been for you! Being a positive role model for your friend/family member by taking care of yourself may encourage them to do the same.
(CMHA) Mental Health Commission of Canada (2013). Making the case for investing in mental health in Canada.
Canadian Mental Health Association. Facts About Mental Illness. Retrieved from: https://cmha.ca/about-cmha/fast-facts-about-mental-illness
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