Having worked in hospitality for so long, and now most recently in the field of Mental Health & Addictions, looking out for others is such a huge part of my every day life. Whether its just a listening ear or noticing warning signs before crisis, we can all do a little bit to help one and other as we go about our days.
For me the biggest component in looking out for others is to always meet people where they are at. To sit with someone in the moment they are having and not jump straight to trying to fix or guide the outcome. One thing we chatted about in a training class recently was the automatic act of giving someone a tissue when they are crying. That is an accurate example of someone trying to guide a situation the way they think it should go, not necessarily meeting someone in the moment they are having. For someone in pain or despair, the simple act of shoving a box of Kleenex in someone’s face could potentially scream ‘I want you to stop crying, you are making me uncomfortable’. Have you ever had this happen? I have and I honestly wasn’t finished crying yet, but somehow felt like I had to be haha
Another big thing I’ve learned throughout my own journey with mental illness is to be transparent and inclusive in your support strategies. When loved ones have noticed the warning signs of my illness before I have, the last thing I want them to do is go behind my back and make plans for me. I want to feel involved in my own care, I don’t want to feel like I’m having the ground taken from under me. A simple ‘Nat I’ve noticed you’ve been sleeping an awful lot lately and I wandered if there has been anything going on for you lately that you’d like to talk about?’. The same goes for taking action when someone needs help – I don’t want a Doctor showing up at my door, but maybe ‘Nat we talked about you going through a rough time lately and I wondered if we could call the doctor together and make some safety plans for you?’.
Lastly and a huuuuuge one that has shaped the way I go about my work is if in doubt, BE DIRECT!!
If you are worried about someone – tell them.
If you are wondering if someone is in danger – ask them.
Not a single thing in this world has ever been resolved by brushing it under the carpet and you can sure as hell believe that addressing the situation head on will bring both parties a sense of relief.
The saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved, and sometimes all we need to do is talk about that problem to take a bit of weight off.