Have you heard about “Mental Health Awareness”? Are you going through any mental health concern currently? Do you have a family member who is?
In our other site Engagement Imperative, we recently published an article entitled Mental Health Awareness: Keep On Rolling with Vic Flauta. Please click here for part I and click here for part II. If you haven’t yet, I highly encourage you to read it.
Yes, we made it into two parts because there’s just too much to talk about when it comes to mental health. Yet, so many are going through it silently and secretly, even to their own family, thus the term silent sufferer.
From Getty Images
Family. Home. This is a safe place where people love you unconditionally. Apart from the self, this is the group who should ideally know about this phase of your life. However, some people who go through mental health concerns hide it from their family for fear of judgment, of being called a failure or simply, they want to be seen as someone strong.
For the Family
In case someone you love, a family member, opens up about his/her mental health situation, here are some pointers:
- Best to listen. Just listen intently and try to understand. There may be contradicting thoughts, you might want to say like you might want to challenge, you might want to say “supportive” words, but hold off any remark. Just listen. Don’t talk. Not yet.
- When it’s your turn to talk (meaning the other person is done saying his/her piece), be careful as there are things that seems neutral or supportive, but are really counter effective. Things like – just pray for it, you can do it, just brush it off, just sleep and when you wake up things will be better. While these are truly words of support, for someone with mental health concerns, it may come across as dismissive (dismissing the weight of what they go through), blaming (is it for lack of faith that I am going through this?) or unsupportive (may be seen as mere lip service). I learned these mostly, from Vic Flauta (my friend, pls see his story in the link provided at the start of this article) and from the Psychological First Aid that I attended in the office, facilitated by PowerVision EAP, (by Jean Lim and her team).
- Patience is key. Sometimes, when we talk with those going through something, some stories tend to repeat. Many of their sentiments may recur. Just be patient and listen. I am not talking about listening to the same twice or thrice, I’m talking about maybe 50 to 100 times, depending on the person and the health concern. But remember that if it is difficult for your to listen, it is 100x more difficult to be in shoes of the other person. Patience.
- Prayer. Instead of suggesting for the person to pray, pray for the person or pray with the person.
For the Silent Sufferer
- Please talk to someone about your thoughts and feelings. Please reach out to your family and friends. I am sure that some or all of them would be happy to assist.
- Don’t keep it to yourself. It’s not something to be ashamed of and not a sign of weakness. It happens to the best of us. What’s important is to handle it in the best humanly possible way and to seek support.
- There are support groups out there. There are professional counsellors, too, who can help or direct you to the right person. PowerVision EAP is one for example.
Vic always attributed his success over depression to his mom who never gave up on him. My family, when I went through depression many years ago were very supportive of me, too, and this helped me move forward faster. In both our cases, there were other support groups, but the support from family – unconditional love and care, was major help in going through and moving past it.
As Vic puts it, life is beautiful!
Here’s for the best to and in all of us! 🙂
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