What’s up, everybody?? Who’s ready to get a little bit better? You should say, “Yes!” right now. I am going to get real on this today. It was a couple of weeks ago, I dropped a blog and it was about how to protect my mental health… and one of the biggest ways I do that is *Spoiler alert*… I journal because that keeps me aware and I process through a lot of things in writing. It is like going to therapy without the hourly rate. I think therapy is awesome and you should totally do that, too.
And the other side of the coin is outside of you, those around you who are struggling with their mental health. You have got a friend, family member, a co-worker, or a boss maybe… but you see the struggle. And so I want to give you a couple of practical answers on how to help a friend with depression.
How do I help someone if they are depressed? How do I help someone if they’re suicidal (get some professional help in that situation, for sure)? How do I help someone that is constantly dealing with anxiety? Isolation? Depression? What can I do? I’m not a counselor. I’m not a therapist. I’m not a psychiatrist and can’t prescribe medication. What can I do?
Because the statistics on mental health in our nation… are staggering. What has happened to our mental health through the pandemic and post pandemic are STAGGERING. Suicide is up 700% and addiction issues have increased 200% or 300%. It is crazy what people have been dealing with.
What can we do? Are there simple practical ways that you and I can show up for somebody when they are dealing with some stuff? And the answer is 100%. I want to reference a book that is called Seen by Will Hutcherson. I highly recommend it. Healing Despair and Anxiety in Kids and Teens Through the Power of Connection… that’s the subtitle. Let me tell you why I got this book, correction why my wife got this book. We have got two teenagers, 13 and 16 and the pandemic has been so hard; virtual school, isolation… I know it was hard on parents, but it has been tough on the kids. And pretty much our kiddos are dealing with stuff that none of us did because we didn’t grow up during a pandemic, so we equipped ourselves with this book and it just lit a fire in me to be able to share this with more people BECAUSE there is some practical frames that you can grab hold of that are not that complicated; that don’t need a degree, that don’t need medication.
If all of us begin to do more of these things that I am going to share with you, the world will become a better place where people can find healing and wholeness. And the whole premise of the book is that the power of human connection has the ability to bring healing to someone else… let that sink in for a moment.
The power you have to create human connection with another person has the ability to bring healing; inner healing, peace and wholeness to an individual. Sometimes we don’t even realize the power that we have.
Five Tools YOU Can Help
This one is really complicated, tough… make a decision to who up. That means when they are having a rough day and they call you, you make a decision to show up. That means when they say they don’t want you to come over, you come over anyways. And when you get there, you don’t need to talk, you don’t need anything from them… you just sit in the same room and show up. You might be tired, mentally, emotionally… you might have had a long week… and you might not be having a good day, either. BUT because you love them, YOU show up. There’s something that happens to someone when we show up consistently. Consistently, I know I didn’t put that work up there, but the more consistently you show up, the more power it brings to healing in them. And it all correlates. When we show up, do you know what your friends and loved ones feel?
When we show up; they feel loved. Love wins every single time. When you show up, you don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to tell them what to do, you don’t have to give them medicine to make it better… all you have to do is show up and they get to feel loved.
How could you show up a little bit more? Maybe sending a person a text message daily, sending them an encouraging note, making a big deal out of a birthday celebration, inviting them out for a meal, including them in a family outing or something like that. Showing up can look a lot of different ways, but the more you show up, the more they are going to feel the love.
When we see them, they feel understood. We are not talking about surface level. We are not talking about the masks that people put up, but we are seeing that requires looking beyond the lines; listening between the words they speak. When they say, I’m fine and you see them, YOU know they are not being honest. Seeing them requires more time to exercise your empathy muscles.
When you really see someone, when you look into their soul and listen… You can start with eye contact. Put your phones down and give them your eyes to let them know that they are seen.
I’m telling you and I have been convicted about this myself. I’ve had times where I’ve gone home, spent the evening with my family and wife in the same house… and I go to bed and I realize I didn’t look my wife in the eyes for a significant amount of time, sometimes the entire evening because I was distracted.
You want to help someone heal? Just see them, understand them, take the time to understand which leads to number three…
When we listen, people feel safe. I know you are smart and you have got the answers and you know what they should do, BUT (and I say this with love), shut up. And I am talking to myself, too because you know, I like to talk. BUT sometimes people don’t need our solutions, they don’t need our ideas, they don’t need our perspective. They just need to know that they can talk and be heard and not judged.
I love this statement, it’s okay to not be okay if you can just listen and make it okay for them not to be okay and not to have to fix, correct, edit their emotions. Gentlemen, we are really bad at that, and listen. Create a safe place so healing can happen.
Sometimes somebody doesn’t even know what they are thinking or feeling until they have an opportunity to verbalize it and you can give somebody that space to talk safely.
When you speak life, you remind them that they are stronger than they think. You remind them of what they have overcome and what they have preserved through. They have a 100% survival rate. Every difficult thing that they have been through, you can speak life. If you are a person of faith like me, you’re speaking the Word of God, you’re saying that the God that is on the inside of you is greater than what you are going through. Life is happening for you, not to you. I know that it doesn’t feel like it right now, but there’s a gift in these circumstances and it is making you stronger. Speak life. And when you speak life; they get to remember they are worthy, they are enough, they have gotten through some stuff, they have persevered, they have something they can grab a hold of… sometimes they need you to not shut your mouth.
This is good news for you talkers out there. But you have to remember to use discernment to know when you’re supposed to shut up and listen and when you are supposed to open your mouth and speak life. Notice that speaking life does not require you to tell them what to do. It is just a reminder that they are worthy and they are loved.
You could call it perseverance because when we have some friends going through hell and they feel like they are hopeless, you have got to be careful how much you put in there saying this is going to make you better or this is going to make you stronger. YOU can also celebrate, hey you haven’t given up yet. I know this feels like crap but you still show up. You continue to choose to show up in your marriage, your kids’ lives, and I am proud of you. Or you could say, I know it doesn’t feel like it but I see you becoming stronger through this and I know you can get through to the other side. When they realize that they can develop grit and that they are getting stronger, they feel empowered.
You might feel like you have got someone you love, you care about and they are going through the toughest time of their life and they have lost hope. But if you can do these five things: Show up, Listen, See them, Speak life, and celebrate developing grit… your people will feel some of the most powerful things in the world. They get to feel loved, understood, safe, worthy and empowered.
You’re not hopeless anymore, you’ve got tools you can pull out of your toolbox. And you just have to ask yourself, what do I need to do right now: do I need to speak life? Do I need to just listen? Am I really seeing them? Am I speaking life? Am I creating a safe space?
I am curious, which of these five things do you need to work on a little bit more? You should drop it in the comments. And maybe it is more than one… statistically, the large majority of you reading this blog right now, there’s someone you know that is struggling with their mental health. They may have even been suicidal at the time, maybe depressed, maybe anxious, struggling… don’t act like you cannot do anything, don’t just send them to the doctors. We have got to get better at bringing healing to our people.
I hope that today I have equipped you, I hope that you were able to grab hold of something practical, one of these tools and help bring some healing to the world. I love you all! This is where you should go out there and give your greatness to the world because somebody needs what is on the inside of you. Seriously, go out there and give it away.