The desire to help and the hope that we can provide direction, care, or support to someone that may be struggling is inherent in many of us. Whether it is a family member, friend, or even a neighbour, when we see a loved one experiencing mental distress most of us are genuinely inclined to help.
Quite often two things keep us from offering that support: We are either 1) Not sure what we’re supposed to do or 2) We’re afraid if we do something, we’re going to end up worsening the situation.
While there are numerous social service agencies and mental health supports in our community, often the people who are closest to us can be the most impactful. We all have the ability to support a person experiencing mental distress and sometimes it’s just about learning what it is we can do to help.
A great starting point in supporting a loved one’s mental well-being is to see what is already available in our community. Contrary to popular belief, this type of learning does not take years or months, often we can learn these simple soft skills in matter of days or even hours. Courses like Mental Health First Aid have proven successful in helping others provide care to those in distress. One of the most important steps is learning how to recognize the signs of mental distress in another (be it depression, anxiety, or even psychosis) and becoming equipped with the appropriate skills to direct that person towards care.
Even with daunting topics like suicide, there are courses available to help and we all have the potential to learn the skills necessary to direct a person towards care and safety. Courses like safeTALK (suicide alertness for everyone) or Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training are both courses available to any adult 16 and older in our community. Within a short period, we can learn how to direct a person experiencing thoughts of suicide towards care.
There are even courses available in our community that can help with our own internal growth and development. Bounce Back is a free skill-building program designed to help adults and youth 15 and older manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. Booklets are mailed right to an individual’s doorstep and they can work through a program modelled in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Concepts that can seem, scary foreign or complicated can actually be made very simple. We all have the ability to grow and improve our existing mental health and we all have the capacity to learn how to help others. This year during mental health week, perhaps we could take the time to think about what seeds of education we could plant within ourselves that could help blossom a community of mental health for all.
For more information on the courses mentioned above, check out: