Categories
Featured Mental Health 101 Self Help Suicide Prevention

Do’s and Dont’s Supporting a Loved One Who Has Lost Someone to Suicide

CONTENT WARNING: This article includes descriptions of suicide that may disturb some readers

If comforting a sad friend is hard, supporting someone who has lost a loved one to suicide is especially difficult and awkward. Often times, the grieving person is not just depressed — they may also be feeling a mix of guilt, confusion, anger, or shame; worse, he may even have suicidal thoughts themselves.

In such cases, the key to helping your friend through this difficult loss is to offer a listening ear. Sit with your friend and listen to the story and feelings in a nonjudgmental way, without trying to problem-solve.

DO:

1. Address the elephant in the room.

Example: “I heard __ died by suicide; how are you?” is one way to start the conversation. Using the word “suicide” can be scary, but when you show your friend that that you are able to talk more openly about what happened, it eases the stigma and encourages him to open up.

2. Express your concern and don’t hide your feelings.

Even if you do not have all the answers, show your friend that you are aware that the death has affected him, and that you are there when he needs help. Example: “I’m sorry to hear that this happened. I’m not sure what to say, but I am here when you need me. Tell me what I can do.”

3. Be an active listener.

Often finding the right words is less important than letting your friend express himself. While you should never try to force your friend to open up when he is not ready, being able to have this conversation when he is ready is important.

Some strategies to be an active listener include:
  • Let your friend know that whatever he is feeling is OK — it’s okay to cry, become angry, or break down in front of you. Your friend should feel free to express feelings knowing that you are willing to listen without judgment, argument, or criticism.
  • Communicate non-verbally. If your friend is not yet ready to talk or you don’t know what to say, you can still show your support through eye contact, a squeeze of the hand, or a reassuring hug.
  • If you’ve gone through a similar loss, share your own experience, if you think it would help. However, don’t give unsolicited advice, claim to “know” what the person is feeling, or compare your grief to his or her.

DON’T say the following:

1. “I know how you feel.”

We can never know how another person may feel. It’s more helpful to ask your friend how he feels.

2.“There’s so much to be thankful for.”

Part of grieving is being able to experience the feelings of sadness and loss.

3.“He is in a better place now.”

Your friend may or may not share your religious beliefs. It’s best to keep your personal spiritual beliefs to yourself unless asked.

Watch Out for the Following Warning Signs:

If you notice any of the following warning signs after the initial loss, especially if they continue for more than two months, or if you feel that your friend is in danger of committing suicide himself, encourage him to seek counseling or connect him to suicide survivor support group resources.

  1. Extreme focus on the death
  2. Talking about the need to escape the pain
  3. Persistent bitterness, anger, or guilt
  4. Difficulty making it to class and declining grades
  5. A lack of concern for his/her personal welfare
  6. Neglecting personal hygiene
  7. Increase in alcohol or drug use
  8. Inability to enjoy life
  9. Withdrawal from others
  10. Constant feelings of hopelessness
  11. Talking about dying or attempting suicide

To avoid seeming invasive, state your feelings instead of outrightly telling your friend what to do: “I am worried that you aren’t sleeping. There are resources online that can help you.”

Remember that grief after losing someone to suicide can feel like a rollercoaster, full of intense ups and downs and everything in-between. People will never fully “get over” their loss, but over time, with your support, they can begin to heal.

We can all help prevent suicide. If you or a loved one is in distress, MindNationconnects individuals with counselors for emotional support and other services via web chat, 24/7, anytime, anywhere. The service is completely confidential and the staff is trained to help you ease your anxieties. Start chatting here: http://m.me/themindnation

Categories
Featured Mental Health 101 Self Help Suicide Prevention

9 Things to Do When You are Feeling Hopeless

Someone who feels hopeless believes that nothing good can happen, that a happy ending is impossible. Whether it’s because you lost your job because of the pandemic and are having difficulty finding another one, or you ended a romantic relationship and feel that you will never find love again, you can say that you’re feeling hopeless.

It’s normal to feel dejected from time to time after encountering failure. But if your hopelessness starts to make you isolate yourself from friends and loved ones, interferes with your daily routine, discourages you from trying anything new, or, worse, makes you feel that you have nothing left to live for, you may be in danger of lapsing into depression or suicidal thoughts. Below are some ways you can rise up from the hopeless feeling:

1. Always remember that nothing lasts forever — including failure.

When it feels as if nothing can go right, respond to the situation with positive and constructive actions so you can break out of the negative thoughts and things can get better. Think “Will this even matter in one year?” If the answer is “no,” then you know that the situation is not as dire as you initially thought. Distract yourself from your hopelessness by actively engaging in other areas of your life. Let time pass and resist the temptation to overreact and aggravate the problem.

2. Recall how you overcame similar struggles in the past.

When going through a challenging time, think about or list down all the occasions in your life when you overcame hurdles and rose above difficulties. Doing this will help you find renewed faith in yourself and in your ability to cope.

3. Look at the bigger picture.

Your problems are merely a small part of everything else that’s going on in your lives, so you should not let the worries, fear, and anxiety overtake your mind. And, even if every area of your life — i.e. Health, relationship, work, money — seems to be filled with problems, the fact that you are alive means there is still hope for things to turn around.

4. Practice gratitude.

Don’t get caught up with the things that are not working out in your lives and forget the good.

5. Try something new.

Many times you feel hopeless because you think you have already “tried everything” to no avail. But have you really tried everything? Maybe you only tried 10 other ways of doing something; there are lots more out there that you have yet to consider. Another option is to try a new way of thinking about the situation; let go of the mindset and behavior that has not worked for you, and do the things you don’t want to do but could be good for you.

6. Live in the present.

Hope and hopelessness are both about the future; when you practice mindfulness, then neither have any hold on you. Learn to be present in your own way, through meditation, exercise, or taking a walk in nature.

7. Ask for help.

Hopelessness is often just a reminder that you can’t do it all by yourself. Many situations that feel or truly are hopeless suddenly become doable when other people get involved. Ask your loved ones for help or a different perspective; or join an online support group.

8. Remember that success takes time (and many steps).

You won’t get six-pack abs after only two sessions at the gym; you will need to exercise for far longer than that, work with a trainer, and change your diet. The same goes for doing other difficult tasks; you will need to do things for some time before you see significant results. Don’t expect too much too soon because that will only set you up to feel dejected and disappointed.

9. Seek therapy.

This is especially important when your hopelessness is affecting your ability to work, appreciating things you’ve always appreciated, or spending time with loved ones. These are indications that your hopelessness is a sign of depression.

Remember that hopelessness is only a feeling, not your reality. It isn’t a sign that you need to give up; rather, it simply means that you need to assess your current way of doing things so you can figure out what you need to improve on and what you need to stop doing. Once you become aware of the alternatives (and there are always better options out there), you can rise from hopelessness and work on achieving your goals with renewed optimism.

We can all help prevent suicide. If you or a loved one is in distress, MindNation connects individuals with counselors for emotional support and other services via web chat, 24/7, anytime, anywhere. The service is completely confidential and the staff are trained to help you ease your anxieties. Start chatting here: http://m.me/themindnation

Categories
Employee Wellness Featured Mental Health 101 Suicide Prevention

6 Virtual Team-Building Ideas You Can Do Anytime.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to shift to a work-from-home set-up. While some have made the transition to working from home with ease, others are struggling to adapt. This is because remote teams have fewer opportunities to socialize and get to know each other, which can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from colleagues, and may translate to poor work productivity and an increase in mental distress.

In the previous article, we mentioned that one of the ways companies can improve and support the mental health of their employees is by regularly holding activities that allow staff to build rapport, improve communication, and increase co-workers’ understanding of one another’s strengths and weaknesses. If you are a business owner or a manager with staff who are not working in the same physical space, you might want to consider conducting virtual team-building exercises. As long as the participants can interact using an internet-connected tool like chat, video conference, etc., you can adapt many traditional team-building exercises to accommodate remote workers.

Below are 6 fun and effective activities that will help your team members work together and start bonding:

1. Favorite Things.

This simple activity is a good way for team members to get to know each other in a fun and relaxing way — because there are no wrong answers, participants will not feel stressed or anxious when they are called to share.

Mechanics: Assign a favorite thing topic, such as “Favorite thing about working from home” or “Favorite part about working for [company].” Everyone takes turns speaking.

2. Birth Map. 

This allows people to share something more personal about themselves. Share a country or world map on your screen and ask people to place a pin on or near their birth place. 

Mechanics: Ask participants to share a story or interesting trivia about their place of birth. 

3. Virtual Coffee Breaks.

This is an easy but effective way to catch up with team members.

Mechanics: Schedule a 15-minute period every day or even once a week when everyone in the team joins a video chat with a cup of coffee or their favorite beverage in hand, and they just talk to each other. Ideally, conversations must be not related to work and purely for fun, just like they might be if everyone was having a coffee break at the office together.

4. Game Day.

There are many group games that can be done online. At the start of the week, send out an email asking the team to vote on what game they would like to play for the week. 

Mechanics: Once a week, block off an hour within office hours or immediately after work and create a separate meeting room where participants can play as a group. 

5. Movie Night 

Similar to #4, you can host a monthly or quarterly movie night (or day). Ask everyone to vote for a movie and a time to watch it. Make sure that the films being considered are appropriately-themed and will not offend anybody’s religious, political, or gender views. 

Mechanics: Consider opening the chat function on the videoconferencing software so that everyone can share real-time reactions during the movie. 

6. Personality Test

Completing personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator helps team members and managers figure out each other’s potential strengths and weaknesses as well as who might work well together and who would do best being left alone. Use the results of the personality tests to open up a conversation. If you’re a manager, use the opportunity to find out what your employees’ goals are for personal and professional growth, and help them reach those goals. If you’re a worker, think about where you want to be in the company—and use your test results to discuss those goals with your supervisors.

Mechanics: The Myers-Briggs Test can be taken online at a cost. But the benefits include giving team members the chance to get to know each other on a deeper level, which will help everyone bond and learn how to communicate more effectively. 

Virtual team-building activities are a safe way to help team members feel more comfortable with each other, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness and building better connections and shared understanding. 

We can all help prevent suicide. If you or a loved one is in distress, MindNation connects individuals with counselors for emotional support and other services via web chat, 24/7, anytime, anywhere. The service is completely confidential and the staff is trained to help you ease your anxieties. Start chatting here: http://m.me/themindnation

Categories
Employee Wellness Featured Mental Health 101 Suicide Prevention

6 Ways Companies can Help Reduce the Risk for Suicide in the Workplace

CONTENT WARNING: This article includes descriptions of suicide that may disturb some readers

Workplace suicide is defined as suicide in or outside the workplace, which may involve an employee, supplier, a significant customer, a family member, a close friend of any of the above. When it occurs, it has a devastating impact on the emotional well-being of both the victim and his/her co-workers.

According to the National Center of Mental Health, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic rise in mental health problems which may trigger or aggravate suicidal thoughts. This is because the virus outbreak has brought forth a slew of stressors that millions of people are experiencing for the first time in their lives: widespread job loss, deaths of loved ones that they are unable to properly mourn, and the heightened fear of contracting the disease, among others.

To make matters worse, social distancing policies crafted by health authorities to reduce the risk of infection have resulted in the removal of many of the resources people have traditionally used to cope with stress: Routines are disrupted; face-to-face contacts with family, friends, and mental health professionals are no longer allowed; exercise and other forms of outdoor physical activities have been curtailed; and even relaxing at home is now harder to achieve since the entire household is cooped up together.

Because people spend a large portion of their day at the workplace, it is highly likely that there will be those who are struggling with the stresses while doing work and hiding it. Employers and co-workers therefore have a crucial role to play in suicide prevention because they are in a position to spot the signs of being mentally unwell, as well as provide distressed individuals with an important social and emotional network.

Key elements of an effective workplace suicide prevention program might include:

1. Creating a workplace culture that promotes good mental health

Encourage staff to create Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) whose members can serve as mental health champions as well as offer peer support when needed. In addition, managers can advocate or promote pro-mental health work benefits such as paid mental health days, sufficient vacation time, and other policies that acknowledge the importance of both physical and mental health.

2. Knowing and understanding your employees.

Regularly hold team-building events so that co-workers get to know each other on a more personal level. This will make it easier for them to identify colleagues who are exhibiting stress or drastic changes in mood or behavior.

3. Fostering a workplace culture where it is all right to seek help.

Employees should feel comfortable in approaching their superiors if they are feeling emotionally unwell. In turn, managers should have the confidence to be able to respond appropriately when an employee needs support.

4. Encouraging self-care and healthy living.

Regularly promote the importance of maintaining a balanced diet and getting enough exercise, as well as the risks of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. In addition, make sure that the on-site workplace environment itself follows safety protocols — air quality, lighting, temperature, noise levels, and physical distancing measures must meet minimum health standards to reduce the stress of employees.

5. Promoting a safe and positive work environment.

Bullying and harassment at work increase stress and the risk of suicide, so they should never be tolerated. Employers must act swiftly and decisively when allegations are made.

6. Educating and training managers and other key staff about suicide prevention awareness.

The suicide or attempted suicide of an employee — even if it does not occur on the job –can have a profound emotional effect on others in the workplace. Evidence has shown that when businesses take concrete measures to support staff health and well-being, these will translate to improved staff engagement and better productivity, leading to financial gain for all.

We can all help prevent suicide. If you or a loved one is in distress, MindNationconnects individuals with counselors for emotional support and other services via web chat, 24/7, anytime, anywhere. The service is completely confidential and the staff is trained to help you ease your anxieties. Start chatting here: http://m.me/themindnation