IF someone you love is going through a difficult patch, it's natural to want to say something to help.
But some phrases or topics could end up making the problem worse.
To help know how to best talk to someone going through a mental health crisis we have compiled some tips from experts.
It will help understand people's frame of mind – especially if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts – and provide support.
A host of psychological experts shared their thoughts with the Huffington Post.
So here are the six things you should avoid saying to someone struggling with mental health problems…
"Ignore the thoughts, they'll go away"
Sherry Davis Molock revealed although it'll be uncomfortable, it's important to let your friend or loved one feel whatever they are feeling.
By dismissing it or encouraging them not to talk about it, it will only make the issues fester.
The associate professor of clinical psychology at the George Washington University said: "Don’t talk the person out of how they’re feeling, because how they’re feeling is legitimate."
"You're not thinking about suicide are you?"
While the phrase itself here is not necessarily a no no, but the way in which it is asked is.
If it comes out with concern it will likely be well received, but if said in an incredulous manner it might cause more damage.
Dr Molock said: "It doesn’t sound like saying this would be dismissive, but it is.
“I’m not ready to have this conversation with you, so I want you to confirm for me that’s not what you’re thinking."
"You're feeling this way again?"
Dan Reidenberg, executive director of the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, said: "No matter how many times this has happened for the person, each time is different, so it is always real to them and should be for you, too."
It doesn't matter if its not the first time they may have had suicidal thoughts – each one is a serious thought.
"Suicide is wrong/a sin"
Your beliefs won't be helpful to anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Just because you think suicide is wrong, it won't lessen their struggle and may make them feel alienated.
Jessica Gold, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis, said: “This is about your loved one and where the conversation takes them. Your job is to listen and be there for them.
"Your job is to help them. You should not be putting your beliefs, especially ones that could add further judgement and pain, onto them.”
Professor Gold said: "You are, even if you don’t mean to, telling them, their experience and their feelings don’t matter or are wrong in some way."
By telling someone they are overreacting you could make them feel they can't talk about their thoughts or emotions.
It could shut down a very important conversation that they have chosen to have with you.
Instead try and respond letting them know their feelings are valid and you are on their side.
"But your life is great"
Professor Gold said: "“Reminding them of an arbitrary list of reasons is not going to make them all of the sudden feel better and more likely will feel minimising of their actual experience and they might feel worse … listen, empathise and validate their experience instead."
Listen without judgement and affirm how they are feeling, it doesn't matter what kind of a life they have – everyone can feel low.
Then try to help them realise getting professional help could be really beneficial.
Offering support and letting the person know they and their thoughts matter to you will be really important and is the first step in finding a solution.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
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