No one said life is easy – we all go through something not everyone knows about, some even find it hard to understand. Most people have a way of coping with it well, some struggle – that’s why kindness is important. But, is that all that helps when it comes to mental health?
You can help someone cope with their dark clouds. You can be one of the reasons someone can have their head above the water, you can be one of the reasons someone remains strong. And, if you’re also going through something, know that if there’s someone who’d look out for you, it’s family.
Educating the family on mental health is a huge step to getting through challenging periods in life. It strengthens the trust and bond of a family, it also saves more lives than just the family because of the influence you will have on the people around you.
How Can You Incorporate Mental Health Awareness In The Family?
Mental health is important in caring for people. It is the emotional, psychological and overall social well-being of a person. And there are challenges to mental health that not everyone can handle. This is why it is important to have awareness of how you can be part of how someone can cope with it. Everything always starts at home with your family.
One of the initial steps to incorporating mental health awareness in the family is to accept that it will always be a two-way street – communication is needed within the family. When you’re ready to open it up to the family, it is important that you also understand things from their perspective.
1. Talk about it in private before opening it up at the dinner table.
It’s important to give a heads up before doing something that could make people comfortable. If it helps, the best person to start with is your spouse. Open up and talk about it; its importance, relevance and how it will help the entire family. If you’re always living with your parents, they could be who you can talk to about mental health after your spouse.
After everything is open to the adults, that’s when the kids follow. Help them understand mental health and answer their questions patiently. It is important to be open-minded as well when this topic comes up so no one in the family withdraws or feels uncomfortable when mental health is a concern.
2. Take time for family.
We all have our private lives, that’s true. But when it comes to family, it’s important to always make time to bond, share moments and know that you all have each other’s backs. At the end of the day, family is family. And if there’s someone who would love you despite your flaws and imperfections, it would be family. Grow and be better together.
Simple dining outs and small hangouts at the park are just some of the small things families can actually do together to de-stress.
3. Take time for yourself.
It’s not being selfish or self-centred. At some point, you also need some quiet to collect your thoughts, your equilibrium and rest your soul. Time for yourself is like dumping everything toxic and stressful and give your mind and body time to recharge and strengthen.
Simply taking time to sit and ponder on life is one way of relaxing. You don’t need to go all out and pack to go somewhere relaxing. Some small things can actually do a huge difference to your day.
4. Encourage a hobby, individually and as a family.
While family time is important, uniqueness and individuality are also important for a person’s growth and development. The kids can have hobbies that make them happy. Your spouse can enjoy their love for hobbies they’ve always dreamed of and you can always learn something new as you go.
When you do find individuality and uniqueness, it is something you can share with others, especially with family. It’s like always finding news to talk about at the dinner table.
5. Respect each other’s personal space.
Even as parents, you will have to give your children and everyone at home their privacy and safe space. Yes, that means even if you are the owner of the house. While it is a must that everyone is respected, you will also have to adjust to the fact that kids will eventually ask for their own space, and that doesn’t mean disrespect at all.
Disrespect can happen when people feel their privacy and space is being invaded, even if they are your kids. And, it can take a toll on everyone’s mental health when situations become anxious and stressful.
Giving everyone in the household space and privacy is a way of also giving them time to think and collect themselves. It is also building a foundation of trust.
How Can You Help Someone In The Family Going Through A Tough Time?
- Work on a routine together.
It’s not easy to open up – this is something you should always know about people. They won’t always say what’s wrong. If you think they are going through something they can’t talk to you about, just be there for them and include them in the conversation or certain activities to distract them or make them feel needed.
- Opt to listen, only respond when asked a question.
No one can help it, someone will always want to ask. The thing is some people might feel uncomfortable and step back, put up a wall and close in. Always be considerate and remember that some problems are their own and have nothing to do with you. Instead of pushing your way to them, let them open up and just listen until they ask for help.
- Give them space without making them feel left out.
Give them time alone to do whatever they want. If they need a breather, they’ll come around. And when they do, don’t guard yourself when interacting with them. Be open and glad they feel comfortable around you in the first place. It’s never easy to open up to people.
- Choose the words you use around them – don’t worry, you’re not walking on eggshells.
Be more considerate about how they feel, and some words may trigger some memories or what is making them go through what they are going through. Understand that they do not want to go through whatever they’re facing; it’s already painful to endure it alone. Always be kind and nice, it wouldn’t hurt you to do so.
- Guide them through the emotions they feel.
Sometimes, kids or adults won’t understand what they’re feeling. At times, they won’t understand why they’re feeling what they do. Help them understand by listening to them and what they are thinking, and let them know that it’s okay to feel confused sometimes. Let them know that no one is pressuring them to know how they feel, and it is their privacy to keep it to themselves until they are ready to open up.
Always understand that they are also going through tough times and don’t blame yourself for whatever they are experiencing at school per se.
- Give them time to think.
Let them know that they can think things through, and everyone respects that they need time alone. Sometimes, to think clearly, people need time away from what could be distracting. Don’t hold it against them and just let them breathe and comprehend the situations they are in.
- Respect their decision while being supportive and open to them.
If they do wish to have time and space away from you, don’t hold them back. Let them take their time to improve themselves in the process. If they need help, they’ll come around and ask for help. Nonetheless, no matter how independent people can be, they will always need someone without knowing they do.
In simple ways, show your support that you’re there for them while respecting their need for space. Simple acts of kindness like making them their favourite dish or giving them a cup of hot chocolate can even prove to be effective at making people feel better.
How Do You Know Someone Needs Professional Help?
Some things can get out of hand, and you’ll know when someone needs help when they ask for professional help themselves or they’re starting to have mental breakdowns that no one can control.
If you are unsure of what to do, it’s best to consult your family doctor. They always know how to help and you’ll be given further instructions when you do.
In A Nutshell…
Everyone is going through battles, and some people do not even say it out loud. Mental health is important for everyone; kids, elders, even parents. The best thing you can do for people is to be there when they need someone to talk to or someone to cry to.
It’s one thing to be strong, but it’s a new level of strength to give or accept strength in getting through something. Be kind. Be good. You’ll never know who needs it.
What is something you want to tell everyone going through something in their lives?