As a counsellor and registered psychotherapist, people often ask me how they can help someone who is struggling with a mental health issue or having a difficult time in their life.

My answer is always the same.  At the end of the day, we are all looking for someone to listen to us, someone who will put aside their judgments and who will just be there for us.  By putting down our phones, shutting off the television, closing the laptop or stopping the chore we are currently doing, we can mindfully listen. In these moments, we will start to truly hear what our kids are trying to tell us or what our spouse or friend is actually worried or upset about.  We will learn about sadness, fear, anxiety, joy, relief and accomplishment.

Suffice it to say, we will likely want to jump in and give advice.  And when we have this urge, we need to just take a few breaths and continue to FULLY listen and see what happens.  Be a compassionate curious witness to someone else’s life. Often, that is all that is needed! Remember, mental health is much more than being free of a “problem”. Connectedness is an essential part of being well.

To note, there are times when we realize a loved one requires more support than we can provide.  In these circumstances, it is important to talk to your family physician and/or a local mental health agency about professional support.