“Talking about your mental wellbeing, talking about stress, talking about depression, anxiety,” explained Ozark Center Licensed Professional Counselor, Stephen McCullough.
McCullough says becoming familiar with difficult topics and getting more comfortable talking about the issues can go a long way.
“A lot of times we, I think, tend to shy away from conversations because, it isn’t that we want to avoid making them uncomfortable, but that we don’t want to feel uncomfortable ourselves,” McCullough added.
He says look from the bread crumbs — or warning signs — that someone may be wanting to talk about something deeper.
“Kind of, coded messages,” McCullough continued. “Saying things, like if they were suicidal, that, ‘I wish I wasn’t here,’ or ‘Pretty soon, you won’t have to worry about me.'”
And if you start to pick up on those warning signs, don’t be afraid to speak up — even if you don’t know that person very well.
“If they can engage with them on a personal level, they can offer them some insight and help that they need at the time that could potentially save their life,” said McCullough.
Be honest and genuine.
Stephen McCullough, Licensed Professional Counselor, Ozark Center, “Don’t feel like that you should mind your own business. Ask them if there is anything that you can do to help, because a lot of times, there are things that you can do whether you’re a total stranger or if you’re a family member.”
If someone is struggling, reaching out to them could help before a mental health situation becomes a crisis.
“We need to let them know that we care about their wellbeing and that we want to help,” McCullough added. “And, if we don’t know the answer, we can be honest about that too, and just be willing to go with them to find the answer.”
McCullough also says start young — teach children it’s okay to talk about things.
“The investment that we make into, what seem to be, very little conversations when they’re children, can lead to them understanding that they have support and that they have people to go to when they have very big conversations as a teenager.”
He adds, for anyone struggling, it’s okay to let people know you need help in what you’re going through.
“Just knowing that somebody is asking the question can make the world of difference,” said McCullough.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health and needs someone to talk to, we urge you to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.