Have you noticed that your brother is much more sad than usual lately? Or, perhaps you have noticed that a co-worker simply isn’t herself lately. Many people feel that it would be intrusive to interject or offer support. However, a small act of concern or support could make a major difference in the life of someone who needs it.
Here are just a few ways that you can make your interaction with your friend or family member a positive one.
Go in prepared
If you are able to share your concerns, be sure that you have some specific examples to illustrate your point. For example, saying “I’m worried about you” sounds less specific than saying, “I’m worried about you because I’ve noticed that you have been crying at your desk every day.”
In order to keep your concerns and examples private, arrange to talk with your loved one in a private setting. Eliminate distractions and ensure that you are maintaining your friend’s dignity by not having a serious conversation in a crowded coffee shop or during after school pick up time.
Consider solutions or support ahead of time
Preparing specific examples and a meeting place are important, but it is also crucial that you prepare a few solutions, resources, and support options before you talk with your friend as well. You can use our Resources page to help you find local counselors, support groups, or help lines that you can suggest to your friend if they are receptive to it. You can even offer to set up an appointment for them or drive them to/from the appointment.
Vulnerability and honesty is the key to communication during your time together. Don’t be nervous about saying phrases like, “It makes me afraid when…” or “I worry about your safety when…”. If it feels right, you can ask the person if he or she ever felt like harming themselves. If so, be sure to offer support and resources to keep them safe.
Offer hope and help
When you are talking with your loved one, avoid blaming or shaming them. Instead, offer encouragement, hope, support and help. Perhaps they need someone to talk to a few times a week – offer to be that person. Many times, a show of support can make the biggest difference to people who are struggling.
Be ready to try again
These conversations, no matter how well intentioned, can be emotionally charged and can become defensive quickly. Be ready to stop the conversation and try it again another time.
If you are worried about your loved one or friend, let them know. Be prepared with specifics and with resources, offer your help, and be ready to try again if needed. You can make a difference!