More than ever, we need each other. Mental health struggles impact all of us, and we all need each other. As the conversation around mental health and wellness becomes more imperative than ever, the question often asked is: What can we do to care for both our own and others’ mental wellness?
The shortest answer is: create connection.
Connection protects us all. We are inherently social beings. The very existence of our species relies on connectedness. We thrive off connection. Our physical health and mental well-being is dramatically impacted by isolation and loneliness. When we feel alone and disconnected, we suffer. Research indicates a link between loneliness and risk for suicide.
Evaluations of suicide prevention interventions show that promoting social connectedness is a valid and effective strategy. Not only does connection serve as a protective factor against mental health concerns, it positively impacts all areas of our life and functioning. Science shows interpersonal connection literally boosts the brain, the immune system, the inflammatory pathways, and our entire system of functioning. Research even shows that social connection is associated with decreased anxiety, depression, stress, and physical health issues. People with strong social connections have better health and longer lives.
So how do we create connectedness? Thankfulness is one of the most effective ways to create meaningful and impactful connection. Sharing your thankfulness for others immediately creates a positive interpersonal experience. Research shows that being thankful both builds our own mental resilience, and simultaneously positively impacts others. When we express our thankfulness, we not only show we care, we allow ourselves to feel connected.
We all want to belong. Reach out. Share your thankfulness for another. Tell someone you love them. This will have a significant functional impact on both your own mental wellness and the mental wellness of another. We are not alone. We always have options. We always have the option of each other.
Mental Wellness Support Summary: What should I do if I feel suicidal? Reach out - reach out to a family member, friend, doctor, therapist, coach, teacher, coworker, anyone. Reach out to 911 or the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255 to call, or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ to chat online) if you are in immediate crisis or thinking of harming yourself.
What happens when I call the Suicide Prevention Hotline? A trained and caring professional will listen to you, ask questions about your situation, and tell you about options and mental health services near you. What happens if I am suicidal and go to the hospital? After you tell them you have suicidal thoughts or plans, you will be directed to see a mental health professional. They will assess your situation and make a plan for the most appropriate care (sometimes staying at the hospital, sometimes referring out to a psychologist/psychiatrist/center/group).
What should I do if someone tells me they are thinking of killing them selves or I feel really worried about someone’s mental health/wellness and safety? Reach out to them, let them know you care. Tell them they are not alone. Offer to find them help right away or go with them to the emergency room immediately.
By Ellie Cobb, Ph.D. - Thankful Director of Psychology