By Adelle Engmann
As a close ally for a friend, family member or acquaintance battling with mental health issues, it can be difficult to know when and how to help.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the first step is to communicate to the person struggling, preferably in a space that is comfortable for them. When communicating, try and come from a place of empathy and compassion using a calm tone.This may help with an individual who is not pleased about the conversation to feel relaxed and less defensive.
It is also important to be an attentive listener–make eye contact and be responsive. While taking the initiative to start the conversation, never pressure the individual. Instead, allow them to reach out and utilize resources from people who want to help them.
If someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts and actions, ask directly, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” Keep them safe by reducing their access to lethal weapons and continue to ask if they plan to harm themselves until you can get help.
There are many resources available for those currently struggling with mental health issues.
Pierce College offers a variety of counseling and mental health resources for students on campus and beyond. Some resources offered help victims of sexual assault and human trafficking, those struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions and depression. There are also support groups for the LGBTQ community, veterans, Native Americans and mothers.
Jennifer Wright, the mental health counselor at the Pierce College Puyallup, has worked four years as a counselor and attended counseling herself prior to becoming one. Wright sees four to six students a day on average and offers a variety of services for students struggling with anxiety, depression, family issues, trauma and stress.
Wright also offers services and resources for sexual assault victims and the LGBTQ community. Wright says these services are free and confidential. She adds that the individual has complete control of the sessions; she is there to listen and offer support. Wrights says this can be a daily consultation or a one-time meeting.
The topic of mental health and illness sometimes creates controversial conversations that can affect those struggling in a negative way. Wright is aware of these stigmas but defines counseling as personal maintenance.
Wright, along with Megan Irby, the mental health counselor at Fort Steilacoom, posted a video about counseling on the Pierce College website for students and faculty. The video can be found at https://www.pierce.ctc.edu/counseling. Wright and Irby hope the video will remind students and staff who are unaware of these services that they’re offered on campus.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, along with Mental Health First Aid, offer similar services outside of Pierce. They can be found at https://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom and https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/. There is also a twenty-four hour crisis hotline available by texting HOME to 741741 if in need of crisis assistance.
NAMI offers additional tips and services in regards to mental health. They can be found at https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/NAMI-FaithNet/Tips-For-How-to-Help-a-Person-with-Mental-Illness.
Spreading awareness about mental illnesses may help support those currently struggling. Help those struggling keep in contact and refer to a close relative, counselor or hotline. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911.
For more information on how to help someone struggling with suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost