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7 ways to support a loved one’s mental health

7 ways to support a loved one’s mental health

You’ve likely been there – or could be in the future – where a friend or family member shares with you what’s troubling them, but you’re not sure what to say.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness. When someone you know is struggling with their mental mindset, it’s best to create space for them to talk openly and honestly about how they’re feeling.

Dr. Gene Carroccia, clinical psychologist and vice president of ambulatory behavioral health services for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care, offers seven ways to better support a loved one with a mental health concern:

1. Become more comfortable talking about mental health

“The topic of mental health is often taboo, so it can be easier to avoid or minimize it,” Dr. Carroccia says. “While it takes courage to start a conversation with a loved one about their mental health, if it’s done in a caring and non-threatening manner, it may open new doors for them. We are in a national mental health crisis together now, and we are challenged to stretch our comfort zones.”

2. Learn more about mental health challenges

Dr. Carroccia recommends researching your loved one’s mental health symptoms and issues. Learning more about the topic can also increase comfort level. You can visit helpful online resources like the National Alliance on Mental Health’s website to become more knowledgeable. The more comfortable you are with the subject matter, the better you can be there for a struggling loved one.

3. Listen to convey empathy and concern

“Sometimes your loved one just wants you to listen while they vent about what is troubling them,” Dr. Carroccia says. “While they may need professional assistance, not everyone needs this during difficult

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Experts offer insights into assisting those in mental health crisis

Navigating the mental health care system and connecting to resources can oftentimes be difficult, but experts say there are measures that can be taken to support someone dealing with a mental health crisis.

When asked what to do for someone in that situation, the panelists during a Mental Health Symposium Thursday said in a perfect world, it would start with preventive measures that would hopefully stop a crisis from occurring in the first place.

If it’s too late for preventive measures, it is still important to slow down and listen when someone is in crisis, the group told the audience at the Gateway Community Center. The event was part of a series of events held this month in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month in May.

“When people’s lives are out of control … try to give them control over everything they can have a say over,” said Drew Buckner with Braveheart Ministries. “That means if we’re with them, let them make decisions instead of making them for them. Like, ‘would you like to sit down or keep standing?’ ‘Would you like water or a coffee?’”

Buckner, who is often called on by emergency responders to be a stand-by chaplain in difficult situations, said it’s important to be with the person who is in crisis.

Speaking on these topics, in addition to Buckner, were some of the primary people who respond to mental health crises in the valley: Paula Sullivan with the Crisis Intervention Team Montana, Sarah Winfrey, mental health co-responder for local law enforcement and Colby Wood, Logan Health emergency room crisis interventionist.

Preventative measures regarding a mental health crisis can include assessing someone’s needs, spending time with them and asking if they think reaching out to talk to someone would help. A safety plan, which is most effective

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Activities Planned to Help Protect America’s Mental Health

America’s mental health has reached a crisis, and with the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, efforts to raise the conscience of Americans are taking place nationwide.

The Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security partnered with the Office of the D.C. Auditor to evaluate the data available to quantify the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health across the District of Columbia.

In the study released on April 23, researchers identified more than 50 datasets related to behavioral health care service needs, supply, and demand at the local, regional, and national levels. 

Experts also found a notable increase in mental health diagnoses during the COVID-19 pandemic in D.C. 

The researchers concluded that investments in behavioral health data systems could lay the foundation for early solid warning systems to identify crises and target responses across all levels of the behavioral system.

“Given the wide range of patient needs, care providers, and services offered, layered analysis and interventions are needed to understand ongoing and emergent needs related to behavioral health in the District,” the researchers determined.

“Accordingly, stakeholders involved in response need access to timely, publicly available data to inform these efforts.”

 Meanwhile, experts note that mental health challenges like eating disorders have also increased.

According to a recent JAMA report, “a common misconception is that eating disorders affect a specific type of person: the media’s portrayals are not always accurate.”

In the United States, the organization said eating disorders already affect 28.8 million people, and those aged 12 through 25 comprise 95% of cases. 

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) reported that eating disorders are severe mental and physical illnesses affecting “all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.”

These disorders have the second-highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, surpassed only by opioid

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