May is Mental Health Month!

    Taking a mental health screen is one of the easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. While one in five people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. Especially during this anxiety inducing era of COVID-19.
    Here is a quick, free, and private online mental health screening. Mental Health America has been been offering this for over six years. Nearly five million people have used this screening program to check on their mental health.
    Most of the people who have taken the screens have never been diagnosed with a mental illness before. They use these screenings to start conversations with mental health professionals, family members, or friends. This can help reduce the duration of untreated mental illness by equipping people with the tools they need to get help. You can take the screening at mhascreening.org.
   
Another way to help someone else with mental health is to have an open, authentic conversation about it. Just talking about it can be the first important step in understanding where someone is with their mental help, and you can help them get support or treatment if needed.
Let them know you’re willing to talk about #MentalHealth.
The easiest way is to be open about your own mental health. Allow it to come up naturally in conversation. If you have seen a mental health professional in the past, you might say “I’ve had times in my life when I’ve struggled. I went to talk to someone, and it really helped.”
What can you say to someone you think may be struggling?
Trust your gut, and speak to them privately. Start with an expression of care, followed by an observation. “I care about you and noticed you haven’t been yourself lately.”

Normalize mental health by talking about it directly. Let them know you get it, it’s okay and normal to struggle in response to life’s challenges.
The timing doesn’t have to be perfect.
You may not be able to speak with someone the moment you notice they might be struggling. It’s okay to circle back to it some other time. Let them know you can have the conversation at a time that’s right for them. “Do you want to grab some coffee and talk about it?”
What if they hesitate?
The other person may worry about being a burden. But you can tell them “I care about you, so I want to be there for you. I’m here to listen and support you.”
What if they are really having a hard time?
Reassure them it’s okay to talk about it. Ask for more detail, and let them know they can go to that dark place with you. “What’s the worst thing about what you are going through right now?” And make sure to include resources to get help from a mental health professional.
     End the conversation by reiterating that you are so glad for the change to connect on this deeper level about such meaningful things in life. Remind them that you’ll continue to be there for them. Follow up to let them know you are a “safe” person to talk to about mental health! Being available to have a real conversation about mental heajlth is an important way we can all be there for the people in our lives. Reach out and connect with someone today!