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Communicating With Those Who Have Mental Health Concerns

Communicating With Those Who Have Mental Health Concerns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BY DHARA SOLANKI

FOUNDER, MIND MATTERS FOUNDATION KENYA LTD

Empathy vs Sympathy

Empathy can be defined as a person’s ability to recognise and share the emotions of another person, being or fictional character. While it is tempting to confuse the emotion with sympathy, (the feeling of compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters), there is one fundamental difference. Empathy requires you put yourself in another person’s shoes. This distinction is vital in understanding what your loved one is going through at the moment.

Reflective Rather Than Reactive Listening

Rather than focusing on being the one giving advice, or reacting to what they say, reflective listening will allow you to understand your loved one’s  Point Of View While it may be tempting to point what went wrong; refrain from doing so, as your friend might not be in a position to listen to it.

Do Not Diminish Their Problems By Comparing Them To Your Own

Often, if we feel like we have dealt with similar situations, we tend to draw attention to those stories instead. Inadvertently, this might make your loved one feel as though you are diminishing their problems.

Assure Them That Help Is Available

Reiterate that although things seem complicated now, it can, and will get better. Let them know that a significant step towards recovery is asking for help. Tell them that it might be a good idea to speak with a mental health practitioner, as a therapist, counselor or psychiatrist might be better equipped to handle the situation. You can also always do a quick search online to look up available resources closest to your friend. You may, additionally, offer to accompany them to a mental health practitioner, as this might boost their morale and help them feel assured.

Be Patient

It is also likely that your loved one will act out during this time period. Mood swings often accompany mental illnesses. So, if your friend seems particularly nasty one day, know that it might not necessarily be because of something you did; rather, it could be because they are having a tough time controlling how they feel. Don’t take it personally; remember that your loved one’s illness can affect their behavior and communication skills. At the same time, set up boundaries for yourself to ensure because your mental health is just as

important as theirs.

Check In On Them Afterward

While this conversation may have been a breakthrough, it is equally important to check in with them periodically. While it might be challenging to have frequent lengthy emotional conversations on a day to day basis due to work and other commitments, a simple text message asking them how they are doing will help them feel cared for, supported, and, most importantly, not alone.

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