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Weekly Wellbeing: Supporting and Connecting With Others

Hey everyone!

How are you all doing? I'm sure many of you are finding it tough managing not only your own mental health and wellbeing, but the wellbeing of others. Some of you might be looking out for a friend, a family member, a partner or members of your community who might also be going through a hard time.
Here are some relevant resources on the ReachOut website:
Supporting Family
Helping Friends

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With this in mind, this week's Wellbeing activity is about learning positive ways we can support others and have conversations about difficult issues. So, we've included some tips and ideas to get you started!

One helpful strategy involves active listening. Active listening is a skill that involves giving an individual your full attention and showing that you're interested in what they have to say.
Active listening techniques include reflection, labelling emotions, asking questions, empathising, sharing lived experience in a positive way, identifying a person's strengths and empowering them to find their own way forward.
Here are some tips to facilitate active listening:
- Acknowledge the other person's feelings and identify the particular emotions they might be experiencing. It's okay to get this wrong.
- Validate their experiences. For example, you could say, 'If I were in your shoes, I would feel ___ too'.
- Show your trust in their ability to work it out. For example, you could say, 'You are the expert on your situation.  I can listen and help you figure out the path forward'. Guide them to look inside themselves for the answer, such as by saying, 'What do you feel like you should do?'
- Help them think about things from another point of view, such as by saying, 'What would you tell a friend who is in your situation?'
- Ask open-ended questions. For example, 'How are you doing?' rather than 'You doing okay?'. Avoid asking 'Why?' questions and ask more 'How?' and 'What?' questions.
- Point out an individual's strengths, such as their willingness to seek support or their resilience.
- Summarise the points the other person makes to check your understanding. For example, you could say, 'It sounds to me like…' 'So, in other words…', 'What I'm hearing you say is…'
- Don't jump in and offer solutions straight away. First, ask open-ended questions and show empathy.
- Tell them about a time that you coped with something similar, and what you did to cope. Instil hope. If you haven't been through something similar, try to imagine what they are experiencing. It's okay to say that you haven't experienced it, but that you can tell that it's affecting them a lot.
- Avoid imposing your own beliefs onto the other person or saying things such as 'I know how you feel'.
- Check in on them at another time after the conversation ends. For example, you could say, 'It's been a while since last talked. How are you doing now?'

 

When you are with a person physically, you can show that you are listening to them by:
- Sitting beside them rather than across from them. If they are sitting down, sit down as well.
- Using brief, positive prompts to keep the conversation going. For example, 'umm-hmm', 'Oh?', 'Then?', 'And?'
- Adopting an open posture.
- Making eye contact with them.
- Being relaxed as calmness is contagious.

 

If you're interested in learning more about how to support someone else, there are lots of paid and free courses out there. Some of them might be called 'Mental Health First Aid' or 'Psychological First Aid'. Here is a free Psychological First Aid course that I did online recently.

If you're worried that someone might require crisis support or is in a lot of distress, encourage them to use a service such as Lifeline, Kids Helpline or the Suicide Callback Service. You can find the links to these services in the 'Urgent Help' section. In the past, I've supported others by distracting and chatting with them as they've waited for a phone or online counsellor.
 

After supporting someone else, try to debrief with yourself. Supporting others can take a toll on everyone involved and you're worthy of receiving support too.
Here are some questions you could ask yourself:
- Do you feel that you coped with the situation well?
- Are you feeling okay after helping this person?
- Do you need to talk to someone yourself?
- What can you do for self-care?

With these points in mind, let's move on to this week's activity:
Share your top tips for supporting someone else! They could be helpful ways to open up a conversation about wellbeing, something that has helped you or a person you are supporting in the past or a useful online resource or video, just to name a few ideas.

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Re: Weekly Wellbeing: Supporting and Connecting With Others

@WheresMySquishy  this is a great thread!

Thanks so much for linking the free psychological first aid course, how long did it roughly take you?

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Re: Weekly Wellbeing: Supporting and Connecting With Others

I find it helpful to pick a place where they can feel safe to open up/cry if they need to. And sometimes just letting them vent without trying to cheer them up can do wonders!

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Re: Weekly Wellbeing: Supporting and Connecting With Others

@JullyBean  It was meant to be done over a few weeks, but it wasn't that long and I finished it really quickly. Most of it was lecture-based so I would just watch it while having lunch. Smiley Happy

@November13  That's great advice! Sometimes, it can help for them to go somewhere quieter.

I found this article the other day and I thought it was relevant for this activity too. Smiley Happy

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Re: Weekly Wellbeing: Supporting and Connecting With Others

It sounds like you are very supportive of others @November13, that is awesome to hear Smiley Happy
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Re: Weekly Wellbeing: Supporting and Connecting With Others

Wow so much great advice and insight @WheresMySquishy. Thank you for all the resources (especially that Psychological First Aid course link!).

Fantastic advice @November13, choosing to have the conversation in a safe space definitely makes all the difference to help someone open up and have an honest conversation. 

 

My top tip is that things are always better said with a cup of tea in hand! I don't know if this is just my circle of friends, but I always find that I have the biggest and hardest conversations over a cuppa. Even just holding the mug and feeling the warmth can bring so much comfort in hard times. 

 

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Re: Weekly Wellbeing: Supporting and Connecting With Others

@recharging_introvert  I'm not a big fan of hot tea myself, but I know so many people who can't live without tea! Once, one of my nursing home residents was upset because one of their family members had passed away, and I brought her a cup of tea and we sat on her bed and chatted about it. Eventually, she was smiling again. I've had a similar conversation with another resident over tea as well. I used to serve tea to people waiting for appointments with mental health professionals in my other roles too. I feel like it can really encourage someone to open up if they're finding it hard to communicate.
That gif is amazing! Smiley Happy

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Re: Weekly Wellbeing: Supporting and Connecting With Others

@WheresMySquishy This thread is so amazing and helpful. I will definitely be doing that course when my workload lowers a bit. 

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Re: Weekly Wellbeing: Supporting and Connecting With Others

Hey guys, great thread, thank you for making this @WheresMySquishy!

 

I had a question from the other side of the pond... how do you deal with people who you go to for support and they respond in a patronising or unhelpful way? Like whenever I go to my partner to talk over something I'm really upset about he always goes 'awwwww' and I HATE IT. It makes me feel so invalidated I guess? To me that's something you'd say if someone just spilled their drink on the floor, I don't want to have that response when I'm upset about my parents fighting or my mental health has just gone down the drain! I've tried mentioning it once or twice but I find it still happens and I'm so upset in the moment that it just makes me madder- this is only a texting problem he's usually fine in person. I also wanted to know if you have any advice for when you come to friends about an issue and they turn it around to be about how they have the same problem and talk about theirs over yours without meaning to.

 

I don't have any advice as of yet because I would love answers to this!

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Re: Weekly Wellbeing: Supporting and Connecting With Others

Ahh that sounds really hard @StormySeas17, as I am sure that your partner has the best intentions when they respond with "aww". I am sorry to hear that it makes you feel invalidated. I am just going to quickly pop in here and say that I would definitely recommend discussing this with your partner and letting them know exactly how it makes you feel. It sounds like that idea has been on your mind before, but that it was in the moment and you were feeling a bit mad. Discussing this with your partner at a time when you are feeling okay would be best as it will give you the chance to get your point across to him. I would also recommend acknowledging that the responses might be his way of supporting you and that you appreciate the effort, but that there are some other, more effective ways of providing support (and letting him know how). Hopefully that helps!