Supporting & Connecting with Others

During Mental Health Awareness Month 2020 we are sharing five practical “Tools2Thrive” that everyone can use to bolster their mental health and increase their resiliency in the face of challenging situations. These practical tools include owning your feelings, finding the positive after loss, eliminating toxic influences, creating healthy routines, and supporting & connecting with others.

While 1 in 5 people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition in their lives, 5 out of 5 people will go through a challenging time that affects their mental health.  There are simple things that every person can say or do to help the people in their life who are struggling to get through the tough times.

Practice active listening. A good active listener gives their complete attention to the person who is talking; asks open-ended questions for more details; and takes time to summarize what they’ve heard.

Fact: Providing support to others can help reduce stress and improve overall well being.

To be truly supportive of someone, you need to put your personal opinions and biases aside. You will never know what it’s like to be that person in this moment and criticism is not helpful to their recovery.

Fact: A strong social support system improves overall mental health outcomes.

Starting the Conversation with Someone You’re Supporting (Prompts)

  • For the past (day/week/month/year/_______), it seems like you have been feeling (unlike yourself/sad/angry/anxious/moody/agitated/lonely/hopeless/fearful/overwhelmed/stressed/______).
  • I’ve noticed your (changes in appetite/loss of interest in things you used to enjoy/inability to concentrate/alcohol drug use or abuse/self-harm/lack of sleep/anger/isolation/talk of suicide/_____).
  • I would like to help you (talk to a doctor or therapist/talk to a school counselor/figure out what to do/create a plan to get better/talk about this more/_______).  What can I do?

It’s possible to be surrounded by people and still feel alone.  It’s the connections we make with other people that help enrich our lives and get us through tough times, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to make those connections.

Going to work and taking care of life’s other responsibilities is time consuming and can leave us feeling exhausted at the end of the day. Set aside at least half an hour each day to connect with people outside of work.

Fact: Americans watch 2.5 hours of TV per day, but only spend half an hour per day socializing.

Tips for Connecting with Others:

  • Connect with others at place you already go to
  • Use shared experiences as a topic of conversation
  • Give compliments
  • Accept invitations
  • Pay attention to what other people are interested in
  • Organize activities

Mental Health of America has created several handouts regarding practical tools to thrive when faced with difficult situations affecting your mental health. 

CLICK HERE for a PDF with additional information about Supporting Others

CLICK HERE for a PDF with additional information about Connecting with Others

To learn more about this topic and other mental health awareness activities, visit Mental Health of America’s website.