Talking to your loved one about mental health around the holidays

How to start difficult conversations this holiday season
Updated: Dec. 9, 2022 at 3:00 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Talking about mental health can be difficult and awkward, but it doesn’t have to be.

Januwaa Davis, a Prevention and Wellness Manager from Horizon Behavioral Health, joins us on Here @ home to talk about some tips when discussing mental health and why it’s important to have these conversations, especially around the holidays.

She explains that with the holidays coming up, it’s important to know that someone struggling with their mental health may be triggered by sad memories, feelings of loneliness, and increased stress that can often accompany the holiday season.

Talking about one’s mental health increases the likelihood that they will reach out for support and treatment when it’s appropriate.

Some people have the wrong idea that talking about suicide can put the thought of suicide into someone’s head, but studies show that this is not true at all. In fact, research suggests that people are more likely to seek help if someone close to them suggests it.

Davis offers steps that can help you be prepared if you are going to have these tough conversations.

A – Approach, assess for risk of suicide or harm. Try to find a suitable time or place to start the conversation with the person, keeping their privacy and confidentiality in mind. If the person does not want to confide in you, encourage them to talk to someone they trust.

L – Listen nonjudgmentally. Many people experiencing a challenge or distress want to be heard first, so let the person share without interrupting them. Try to have empathy for their situation. You can get the conversation started by saying something like, “I noticed that …” Try to be accepting, even if you don’t agree with what they are saying.

G – Give reassurance and information. After someone has shared their experiences and emotions with you, be ready to provide hope and useful facts.

E – Encourage appropriate professional help. The earlier someone gets help, the better their chances of recovery. So, it’s important to offer to help this person learn more about the options available to them.

E – Encourage self-help and other support strategies. This includes helping them identify their support network, programs within the community, and creating a personalized emotional and physical self-care plan.

There is a training coming up on January 5th at Horizon Behavioral Health.

This 8-hour certification course teaches people how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness in youth and adults. It’s designed for neighbors, parents, and friends. It’s for those in recovery and those supporting family members.

Horizon Behavioral Health Admissions: 434-477-5000

After-Hours Emergency Number: 434-522-8191