Episode 43 - Suicide Awareness Month - What You Can Do If Someone Opens Up To You About Their Mental Health
It can be really scary, uncomfortable, and challenging when someone opens up to you about their mental health. On this episode of The Rural Mindset Podcast™, you will learn about some of the things you can do when people open up to you about their mental health in 4-6 actionable steps. It can feel overwhelming if someone opens up to you; you may not know what to say or how to respond, and if it's serious you might not know the right steps.
This episode is to provide you some ease of mind and is not a replacement for therapy services, emergency services, or mental health or psychological first aid. If you are more interest in crisis lines or crisis care please look at the links below. In the event of a mental health emergency please call 9-1-1.
I decided to do this episode because I used to freeze up when someone opened up to me. I thought trying to find the silver lining or awkwardly saying "that sucks" was the right thing to do. Don't be me... let me teach you how to be helpful and comfortable at the same time.
1. Validate their feelings - a simple "wow, that sucks" "that's so hard" "I'm sorry" can be enough there.
2. Ask for clarification - make sure that you're not assuming they're feeling a certain way because of how you're feeling or would feel based on your previous experience. We only know what we know based on our previous frames of reference; when you're talking to someone each of you is having a totally separate conversation than they are based on your previous experience and frame of reference.
3. Ask how you can support them - "what can I do to help you?" "what do you need?" "do you need it to be fixed, an ear lent to you, or a solution?" When we do this, we don't assume what someone needs. Many people, with completely kind-hearted intention, try to fix what they perceive is wrong with someone because they want to help, but your loved one may not need help. Notice how that was phrased too - it's more inviting to say to someone "what can I do?" rather than a closed ended question like "do you need help?".
4. Check-in on them - when all the dust settles is when people need help the most during hard times. At first, they are often busy with visitors, have food coming through, and have their support system around, but when things settle down they'll need help, love, and someone around for them. A good way to do things is to set a calendar reminder or timer in your phone to call, text or check-in with them in some way. Make sure that your loved one knows when to expect you checking in on them - this gives them some hope and something to possibly look forward to.
In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency services line.
Suicide Crisis Line Canada 1-800-456-4566, Quebec 1-800-277-3553
Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868
Saskatchewan Farm Stress Line 1-800-667-4442
Crisis Text Line - Text CONNECT to 741741
Mental Health Line 2-1-1
Suicide Hotline 9-8-8
*Please note that many of these are hotlines and may involve wait times. In the event of an emergency call 9-1-1 or your local emergency services.
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