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  • Writer's pictureNicolas Scagnelli

Consoling A Loved One Struggling...

Dealing with mental health issues on your own can be tough. You wanna know what’s even harder? Helping someone you care about who struggles with the same problem. It can be a high-stress situation to help anyone dealing with a mental illness when you yourself aren’t a professional. This could vary widely as well. Maybe you have had to be a shoulder to cry on for a family member who had a tough day, or on the other hand, maybe you’ve had to talk someone down from trying to take their own life. That’s what is so challenging about helping someone in this scenario. It’s hard to truly know what to expect, since everyone deals with mental health in different ways. I believe there are some catch-all ways to be a pillar of comfort and light for whoever is relying on you if this situation arises.

First off, and many people won’t tell you this, but I firmly believe that at the end of the day, you come first. What I mean is, if you yourself are not in a state to help or assist someone, then you shouldn’t do it. You run the risk of making your situation worse as well as theirs. This is not anything to be ashamed of or worry about. If one needs help, they should absolutely seek it, because everyone deserves to be alright. However if you yourself are struggling with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, or any other mental health issues, and someone also struggling with similar issues comes to you, I believe you should be honest with them. Honesty is the best policy, and telling them that you are not fit to help them, and that they should talk to a professional or a close loved one is the most mature and smart thing you can do.

Now let’s say you feel comfortable helping out this loved one, there are two scenarios where this might happen: in person and through a phone or device. Helping someone over the phone is a much different ordeal than aiding them in person. Texting can be the most difficult form of communication in this sense, because you can’t physically see the person. They may take time to respond, and if the situation is dire, that might cause more anxiety and panic. In both cases, the best bet one can make is to let the other side talk. Let them talk as much as they want. That’s a common difficulty many people face, sometimes they feel that no one in their life hears them out. Letting this person vent and unload all of their feelings works magic. Many times people will think “what do I say to someone who needs my emotional support?”. And I’ll say “let THEM do the talking”. It works like mental magic.

Consoling someone in person might be easier or harder, depending on who you are. My advice is still the same however. Let them talk it out. Be empathetic, ask what they need from you, ask how they’re feeling, and if they’re comfortable with it, physically comfort them as well. I’m not smart enough to memorize all the chemicals released when you hug someone, but I know it feels damn good. A hug always helps, never hurts. Both these situations can and will be tough, but an option after the fact is always helping the person seek professional help. I believe anyone who battles with any kind of mental health issue should be proud of themselves for asking a loved one for help. It’s not easy by any stretch. But all it takes is opening up to one person, and that could lead to professional help, and that could be the gateway to a healthier, more fulfilling life. And all that can start with you being open to helping someone in need.


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