The past two years have created several challenges for folks everywhere. We have all experienced collective trauma due to the pandemic. Whether it was grief, fear, isolation or stress, many children and families have had to work through these experiences without a lot of support. A recent study by Mental Health America found that 71 percent of those surveyed turned to friends and family in times of stress. Now that many communities are slowly getting back to normal, it’s a great opportunity to reconnect with friends and family members who have remained distant through the pandemic.
Humans are social beings, we crave feeling supported, valued, and connected. The benefits of social connection are long reaching. It can;
· Increase happiness. One study found a key difference between very happy people and less-happy people was good relationships.
· Better health. Loneliness was associated with higher risk of high blood pressure in a recent study of older community members.
· A longer life. People with a strong social and community ties were two to three times less likely to die during a 9-year study.
Reconnecting with loved ones can support your mental health too! Talking to friends and family about mental health can be an opportunity to provide information, support, and guidance. Talking and learning about mental health can lead to, improved recognition of mental health problems, early treatment opportunities, and greater understanding and compassion.
If a friend or family member is showing signs that they’re struggling with mental health or they’re reaching out for help, you can offer support by;
- Finding out if the person is getting the care that he or she needs and wants—if not, connect him or her to help.
- Expressing your concern and support.
- Reminding your friend or family member that help is available and that mental health problems are normal and can be treated.
- Asking questions, listening to ideas, and being responsive when the topic of mental health problems come up.
- Reassuring them that you care.
- Offering to help them with everyday tasks.
- Including them in your plans—continue to invite them without being overbearing, even if they resist your invitations.
- Educating other people so they understand the facts about mental health and do not discriminate.
- Treating people who struggle mental health with respect, compassion, and empathy.
You can find a list of mental health resources, including several topics that specifically discuss the COVID-19 pandemic here.