The death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput has left the nation in shock. It has sparked a debate on the importance of mental health awareness and how there are many who live with trauma and no support throughout their lives. As a result, many across social media have also started sharing posts saying ‘I am here.’ But is sharing posts on social media the only way to show support? Where did we go so wrong that we stopped expressing our emotions and support to people who needed it from us?
There are so many ways in which you can be there for your loved ones, instead of just posting an image on your social profile. Moreover, it’s not necessary that you only show support to those who are suffering from a mental health condition.
These are tough times, and as a society, we all need love and warmth from each other, just to get through. Let’s look at some of the ways in which you can show consistent love and support.
1. Start with educating yourself about mental health
This is 2020, and if you’re still unaware of how mental illnesses can affect people, you need to educate yourself ASAP. Find out about the different kinds of mental illnesses that affect people around the world. Read up on depression, anxiety, panic disorders, bipolar disorders, and more. Educate yourself enough to rise above the point where you tell people that it’s all in their head.
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2. Understand that mental health issues are illnesses
If you think pneumonia is an illness, understand that depression is equally severe. Stop differentiating between physical and mental illnesses by calling the latter ‘not a big deal.’ All kinds of illnesses require treatment, and mental health illnesses don’t get fixed by ‘bucking up.’
3. Talk to people
When someone is experiencing these changes in their thought patterns, it is often hard for them to express it to someone else. They struggle for a long time to come to terms with it themselves. Thus, to say ‘oh, he should’ve told me’ is a bit unfair because it’s possible that the affected person doesn’t even understand what’s happening to them. If you notice a change in someone, take a step forward yourself and talk.
4. Listen to understand, not to respond
Stop and think for a second – do you have moments where you’re so frustrated that you just want to vent? That happens with everyone! And many times, people just want to be heard. So, if a friend or a family member reaches out to you to talk, just focus on listening without giving your opinions, unless asked.
Watch this video for a simple guide on how you can be a better friend to someone dealing with mental health issues.
5. Remember your family elders at all times
We’re all so busy running around and chasing our dreams that we often forget about our parents and grandparents. Did you know that 51 studies conducted in 16 states of India found that the prevalence of depression among the Indian elderly population (60 years and above) is around 34.4 percent? Our elders often go through loneliness once the kids move out or get busy with their jobs. Take a moment out of your day and just reach out to them. Hear them talk about whatever they want – even if it’s a story about what’s happening on their favourite TV show.
6. Spread love, not a ‘roasting and trolling’ culture
I never understood these televised roasts of celebrities. They present themselves on a pedestal for people to talk nonsense about them. What happens next is that their happy acceptance of the same makes it the norm, that everyone should be okay with this sort of roasting. And the trolling on social media is absolutely vicious. Strangers send ridiculous DMs and post comments without thinking how the person reading them will feel. If you’re one of those people who leave nasty comments on social media, stop doing that!
7. Be available, but don’t force your presence on someone
Just because you want to be there for someone doesn’t mean that you ask them ‘how are you’ or ‘sab theek?’ every 10 minutes. Be available for your loved ones, and let them know you are always there in case they wish to talk. Let people come to you by building an environment of trust for them. Let them feel comfortable in your presence so that they know that they can talk to you when needed.
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8. Encourage positivity wherever you can
Many people often feel frustrated with different aspects of their lives, be it their jobs or relationships. Try to avoid egging them on by saying, “Yeah, things seem pretty bad in your life.” Wherever possible, help people see the brighter side, or at least a lighter side, of the situation or how they can make it better.
While everybody agrees upon the importance of mental health, we don’t always take a step ahead to help people feel safe. It takes a tragedy to show us the stark reality and mumble about it for some time before we go back to our old lives. Why can’t we make it a part of our daily lives and make sure that our loved ones truly feel loved and supported?