By Catherine Nitelet-Vedder, Wellness Educator

In the past, some people might have believed that mental health was only a concern for those with mental illnesses, but the reality is that everyone can face difficult situations that challenge their mental health and with the pandemic, these numbers have increased…

Ask how you can help

The month of May is a great starting point for raising awareness about mental health, but you can help all year long. When someone is struggling with a mental health problem, it can be difficult for them to ask for support. Reaching out and starting the conversation by asking a simple question can create a safe space for someone to talk about their problem and get assistance without needing to search for it.

Listen with empathy

Another common reason why people avoids talking about their mental health issues is because they are afraid of judgment and discrimination. Talking about a condition might feel incredibly vulnerable and nerve-wracking for someone else. Let people who struggle know that their voices are being heard by listening closely, not interrupting, and acknowledging that they are not defined by their mental illness. You can show empathy by trying to put yourself in their position and respond in the way that you would want someone to respond to you if you were sharing something difficult and private.

Be mindful of your words

You never know what someone is going through just by looking at them. You have to be conscious of your language and word choice in a variety of situations and conversations, not just around people who you know have a mental illness. For example, calling someone ‘insane’ makes light of mental illness and devalues the experiences of people who have lived with mental illnesses.

Share your story

Awareness and visibility are essential components to making mental health an approachable subject for everyone. While numbers and statistics can be great pieces of evidence, nothing is quite as powerful as someone’s personal story. By sharing your lived experience, whether it’s with a serious lifelong mental illness or your daily struggles with anxiety, you open the door for people to see themselves in your story and feel less alone.

WYAO Hawaii is here to support you and your team during these challenging times and beyond. Call or email for an education session that can support, educate, and help your team to continue to step into their best selves!

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