The stigmas that surround mental health are deeply rooted in our society. However, while it may be difficult to discuss mental illness, it’s critical to the overall health of our communities that we provide a space for conversations about it.
For example, suicide has become the second-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34, and the overall rate of suicide has increased 35 percent over the last 23 years.
So, how can we help?
One of the first steps we can take to help eliminate mental health stigmas is to take time to listen to our loved ones. Doing so opens the door for vulnerable conversations where they may seek additional help. You can also offer to help them find professional support and encourage them to seek help.
Keep in mind, if you have a loved one struggling with their mental health, they may feel lost or scared to ask for help. Any significant stressor, particularly one that is ongoing, will tax a person’s resources and resiliency, especially if they are not properly caring for themselves. In this case, continue to offer your support and be there for them.
“Here in Lorain County, primary care providers are able to refer to behavioral health consultants, such as myself, where we can assess if an individual will benefit from brief, solution-focused and skills-based intervention,” Scott Reisinger, PsyD, a psychologist with Mercy Health – Lorain Behavioral Health, shares. “We address a multitude of concerns or, if the individual would be better served with referral to a provider in the community for more counseling or psychotherapy, we can help with that, too.”
Dr. Reisinger continues, “The research is clear. Asking about and discussing depression and suicide does not increase risk of an individual attempting suicide. In fact, it may open the door for the person to express how they are feeling and ask for the help they need while reducing the risk overall.”
It is important to remember that anyone can start a conversation about mental health. You don’t have to be a professional. By simply going to a safe space, taking the time to listen and ask questions can reinforce to your loved one that you care and that they’re not alone.
“We have all felt anxious, sad, depressed, grieved, angry or even lost at some time in our lives. However, sometimes these feelings can make a person feel like they are alone and misunderstood,” Dr. Reisinger explains. “Offering a listening ear and an opportunity to have a supportive conversation can make a difference in the lives of those who may be struggling with their mental health.”
He adds, “These conversations are also essential to breaking down the stigmas that plague mental health and keep people from seeking help. While some can manage feelings of anxiety or depression and recover on their own, others may require additional assistance, using tools such as therapy or medications. Unfortunately, our society has stigmatized seeking help for mental illness when there’s no reason it should be viewed any differently than a medical illness.”
You can now connect with mental health counselors across the country by using a 988 dialing code, the new three-digit suicide and crisis lifeline, to call, text or chat. Like 911 operators assist with medical, safety or fire emergencies, the new 988 lifeline service providers will help people experiencing mental distress. These calls offer free and confidential support to those in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Also, learn more about the behavioral and mental health services we provide at Mercy Health.