How Can You Help Someone Deal With a Mental Health Crisis People who have mental illness can find it difficult, and sometimes unsafe, to talk about their situation or problems

By Bethsheba Arsiwala

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When life presents us with the unpleasant and the unwanted there is a strong tendency for the mind to resist what is happening. Anxious thoughts can overwhelm you thus making it difficult to make decisions or take action to deal with the issue at hand. Anxiety can also lead to overthinking, which makes you more anxious, which leads to more overthinking...a vicious circle.

Being aware of the risk factors and warning signs, being aware of how to have a caring conversation with someone you're worried about...aware that help is always available...aware of the fact that prevention starts with simply approaching mental health like the real and important aspect of health that it is.

Think about the people you come into contact with throughout your day. Your family, neighbours, classmates, co-workers, and friends. Do your part in creating a caring culture by being present, taking a moment, listening, and knowing what to look for, not just in others, but yourself. Practice mental health safety by looking both ways - outward and inward - at others and in yourself.

The way we behave around our family, friends and colleagues living with mental illness can have a big impact on their lives and recovery.

So it's important that we show people living with mental illness the same respect and acceptance as everyone else. To make a real difference, we need to become aware of the issues and disadvantages people face. We also need to recognise the fact that people with mental illness are eligible to the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

It's often the everyday things that make a difference:

Be Sensitive

People who have mental illness can find it difficult, and sometimes unsafe, to talk about their situation or problems. Be sensitive to changes you notice in them.

Be Humble

Remember that having a mental health problem is just one part of the person. People don't want to be defined by this alone. Be respectful of the individual.

Communicate

Helping others relies on good communication. When you meet someone who wants to talk about their mental illness or symptoms it is important to, listen and be non-judgemental, choose the right time and place to approach the issue. Acknowledging their experience and what they share helps them feel reassured. You may also help them by providing any material you may have on available support or resources.

Be Empathetic

Helping others depends on open communication, it's important to be compassionate. Your body language should show that you care and that you are relaxed and open to discussion.

Be Mindful of Your Words

Words like mad, crazy and psycho can be offensive and hurtful.

Help Them Seek Support

Listen and make them feel they are not alone and that their issue is important. Encourage them to seek help, refer them to a professional i.e psychologist, counsellor, psychiatrist if needed.

If possible, accompany them to the service or resource, or help them make an appointment.

A healthy individual is not only physically healthy but also mentally healthy. The modern concept of health spreads beyond the proper functioning of the body. It includes a sound, competent mind and controlled emotions. "Health is a state of being hale, sound or whole in body, mind or soul." It means that both body and mind are working efficiently and amicably.

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