Helping loved ones through mental health issues

Life Lessons

Helping loved ones through mental health issues

It can be hard to see someone you care about struggling with their mental wellbeing. It can be even harder to know what to say.

If you find out someone has been diagnosed with a mental health issue or is struggling with their mental wellbeing, Thomas Brasel, a lead disability benefits specialist at Unum, recommends focusing on helping them rebuild their identity and self-worth instead of addressing an issue. Brasel is part of the dedicated team of Unum disability benefits specialists that works with people filing mental health claims.

“If someone is in mental distress, they’re likely suffering from self-doubt,” Brasel said. “Remind them what they do well, and tell them often. If this is a coworker, let them know they’re an integral part of the team and be sure to emphasize the value they bring to the team and the company.”

This same tactic can be used with a family member or friend.

“Remind your loved one of all the reasons you love them, and be that mirror that helps them see their strengths more clearly,” said Grace Adeniji-ilesanmi, a nurse practitioner who provides wellness coaching to Unum employees. “Asking sincere questions, like ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘How are you feeling today?’ are small indicators that you care that can go a long way.”

“Just being around someone who cares about you, someone who can just be with you with no expectations or pretense, can be uplifting,” said Vikki Ledbetter, a Unum employee who experienced post-partum depression after the birth of her daughter. “Having plans for the day to go for a walk, watch a special show together, or just catch up can help get you through the most challenging days when each hour, each moment is a battle to overcome.”

Remember, if you, a colleague, or family member shows signs of struggling with mental distress, your employer may have resources, such as free counseling through an employee assistance program.

Mental health, just like physical health, can fluctuate and escalate. If someone you care is in distress, there are several national resources you can point people to before a condition worsens.

  • For daily self-care, getting plenty of sleep and eating healthy are two important habits. Meditating, saying “no,” and finding time to disconnect are other daily habits that can improve mental health.
  • For extra support, the National Alliance on Mental Health hotline at 800-950- 6264is a free service that provides information, referrals and support to people with a mental health condition, including their family and caregivers.
  • In an emergency, call 911 and talk to police. It’s important to tell the operator it’s a psychiatric emergency and ask for an officer trained in crisis intervention or psychiatric emergencies.
  • In a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to be connected with a crisis center nearest you. The call will be answered with a trained crisis counselor who can help on the spot and also identify support resources nearby.



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