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Compassionate Concern

We partnered with our friends at The JED Foundation for Mental Health Awareness Day 2019, and a Toolkit on How to Offer Compassionate Concern to a friend or loved one. No need to be an expert. Just be a friend.

Facts

WHAT IS A KEY FACTOR IN GETTING HELP?

Friends, you can play a critical role in supporting those who may be struggling. It's reported that 76% of young adults will turn to a peer in a time of crisis for support. This is a generation that is ready to crack open the cultural conversation about mental health, they just need some support and guidance to do it.

IF YOU'RE HELPING A FRIEND, REMEMBER THAT COMPASSIONATE CONCERN IS VERY HELPFUL.

Getting started is usually the hardest part. Starting the conversation is uncomfortable because we often don't even know what to say. We put together some research-backed tools on how to help a friend you think is in need. Something that we have found to be extremely effective is to speak from personal experiences as opposed to giving advice. We only know what people are willing to tell us, so there is often much more to the story than we know.

Rather than saying, "I think you should..." it is more appropriate to say something like, "What you are saying reminds me of when I went through... and I found that it was very helpful for me to..." Being vulnerable and opening up can often inspire the same in return, and can often give another perspective of how to deal with something. Try to be patient and nonjudgemental about how and what they might share with you. Don't feel like you have to give advice or know all the answers. Just sitting with someone as they try to navigate their distress can be very powerful.

Homework

These are just a few of the many ways that you can help loved ones. So much of it depends on the situation and each one is different. Listen to your gut, use your best judgment and use these prompts to guide you.

  • If someone is in distress, they made need reassurance. Let them know that it is possible to feel better and they are not alone.
  • Let them know it is ok to ask for help and doing so is a sign of courage, strength, and good judgment.
  • Listen to them (really listen) - be comfortable with silence if that is what they need.
  • If something doesn't make sense, ask about it, don't try to fill in the gaps with your own thoughts or words or jump to conclusions.

SUGGESTIONS ON HOW YOU CAN START THIS CONVERSATION INCLUDE:

  • "I'm worried about how because you seem..." (sad, withdrawn, etc.)
  • "It concerned me when you said..." and be specific about what you heard.
  • "Do you want to talk about it?"; "What can I do to help?"
  • "It's okay if you don't want to talk to me, but I would feel better if you would talk to someone."

Remember, if you're in a crisis: You are not alone, and help is always available. Get immediate support 24/7. Reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting SEIZE to 741741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It's free, and everything you tell them is confidential, unless it's essential to contact emergency services to keep you or your friend safe.

Cite your sources

This Toolkit was made in collaboration with The Jed Foundation - a nonprofit organization that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation's teens and young adults. JED partners with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems.

They also have an incredible online resource center where you can learn more about these issues here:

The JED Foundation