IMPORTANCE OF CULTIVATING EMPATHY & SUPPORT

It is not surprising that, more often than not, our words of advice given with the best of intentions, may also be rejected or be perceived as being unhelpful by the other person.

With the ongoing pandemic worldwide, it is indeed fair to say that these are truly unprecedented times for one and all. It has invaded and impacted almost every aspect of our lives, with mental health not being an exception. In fact, these times have seen an understandable increase in the experience of anxiety, sense of uncertainty, high stress levels and frustration, with a variety of manifestations in different individuals.


While most of us might be able to recognize this impact on our mental health and psychological well-being, and might even be able to appreciate the need to be able to be there for each other; often we can find ourselves at a loss of knowing exactly how to go about providing this support. It is not surprising that, more often than not, our words of advice given with the best of intentions, may also be rejected or be perceived as being unhelpful by the other person.


The following are some points which we can keep in mind when we are around someone who might be experiencing any mental health related concern, or when we want to be supportive to a person experiencing a problem, but we are not sure how to.


1. Provide support, empathy and a listening ear. Give the person a chance to express him/herself. Do not interrogate or form judgements. Convey your genuine concern and support. Something that can help in this situation is simply being empathetic. Empathy is the ability to think and feel from the other persons perspective and look at how the other must be feeling before we communicate with them.


2. Never try to figure out who is to blame. It is vital for all of us to understand, and keep reminding each other that mental illnesses are not a sign of weakness or character deficit. On the contrary, mental illnesses are well-recognized medical illnesses, which require adequate and timely professional interventions including a combination of psychiatric medications as well as psychological counseling to help the individual in distress alleviation as well as resuming functionality across personal, social as well as occupational spheres.


3. Don’t hesitate to be a support system. Especially in today’s world, it is extremely important to establish a strong network of support, be it at home, with peers or even at the workplace itself. Therefore, if you observe someone around you to be feeling low or stressed, it is important for you as a concerned adult to assume the responsibility, and help the person cope with the situation in a better manner.


4. Do not advise individuals to simply exert their willpower to overcome mental illnesses. As with other medical illnesses, the role of professional help is irreplaceable. For instance, depression, which is one of the most common psychiatric illnesses, is a medical illness which is caused by an imbalance in the levels neurotransmitters in the brain, for example serotonin which has been implicated in mental illnesses like anxiety as well as depression. Therefore, one cannot just snap out of depression. The role of professional treatment, including both psychiatric medications as well as psychological therapies is essential for the treatment of depression. In fact, if left untreated over a prolonged period of time, there are greater chances of the individual feeling more helpless and hopeless and might also lead to suicidal tendencies.


5. Talk. This is one of the easiest and most important point to be kept in mind. We should not hesitate to initiate the conversation about mental health, as it is important to give each person a chance to express their feelings and release their pent-up emotions. It is a myth that talking about the problem aggravates the situation. In fact, giving them a chance to vent out their feelings and emotions is more likely to help the person lighten the burden by being able to share it with someone who is concerned.


6. Encourage the person to reach out to an expert. Besides being a source of

support, it would be beneficial if you could help the individual to reach out to the help of a professional mental health expert for adequate interventions. In fact, if you are able to engage in a conversation about the person’s feelings, you can help the person in coping with the situation by taking a solution-oriented approach, and reaching out to the existing support mechanisms. Encourage help-seeking behaviour.


Written by- Roshni Sondhi


Your mental health matters as much as your physical health. Don't hesitate to take a step towards your mental well-being. If you’re looking at talking to a professional, book your Initial Consultation with us on https://www.themoodspace.com/freeconsultation or write to us at info@themoodspace.com. Take a step towards bettering your mental wellbeing because you deserve it!

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