If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it’s important that you reach out for help. When you are hurting, it can be hard and feel impossible to take care of yourself. You don’t have to feel this way. There is help available.
Help is a phone call, text, email or visit away.
Confide in a friend or family member
Your friends and family are the people who most want to see you succeed, even if you’ve recently had a fight or falling-out with some of them. Don’t hold a grudge and dismiss texting a favorite aunt or an older friend about how you are feeling. In fact, they may have felt the same way at one time in their own lives.
Support for LGBTQ young adults: www.trevorSpace.org
National Suicide Hotline
You should never feel as though you can’t turn to anyone for help, especially if you are repeatedly thinking about harming yourself. Call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255 to talk with someone about your struggles. It’s anonymous and available 24/7.
You can also dial ‘211’ to be connected to a local organization that can help you, or click here for a list of resources in North Dakota and western Minnesota.
741-741 Crisis Line
The Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7, confidential text message service for people in crisis. Text HOME to 741741 in the United States.
If someone you love is struggling
It’s not easy to watch a friend or loved one struggle, especially when you aren’t sure “what’s wrong” or how to help. If you’re worried about a friend or loved one, reach out for help.
Don’t worry about hurting their feelings. Don’t worry about them getting mad at you. It’s our job to watch out for our friends and help each other out. An angry friend is better than a dead friend. They will forgive you eventually.
Symptoms of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression are often misinterpreted, which can result in not getting help. This potentially leads to more pain and struggle.
Is your friend or loved one:
Experiencing slipping grades?
Not able to enjoy activities or pastimes?
Displaying an overall “bad attitude?”
Wanting to sleep all the time OR unable to sleep?
Showing appetite changes (either eating more than normal or not eating)?
Disinterested in caring about appearance?
Showing behaviors and evidence that suggest drug or alcohol use?
Cutting or practicing other kinds of self-harm (i.e. eraser burns)?
If they exhibit any of these behaviors, try the following steps to connect with them:
Communicate, Reassure and Protect
1. Communicate. Promise to listen without judgment and ask questions.
How are you feeling?
How can I help you?
Be honest with them about your concerns. Share your feelings.
Allow them to respond and to share their feelings.
Let your friend or loved one know you are there to help them.
Remind them that you are listening to them and you’re not judging.
Don’t criticize or trivialize their feelings or concerns.
Don’t say things like, “just get over it,” “stop worrying about it” or “try harder.”
Assure them that everyone will struggle from time to time. Getting help does not make them “weak” or “bad.”
Trust your gut; if you’re worried about your friend or loved one, reach out for help.
Talk to a family physician, pediatrician, school guidance counselor, or clergy member, as they can be great supports for both you and your friend or loved one.
Never shrug off threats of suicide as “melodrama.”
Seeking help for your friend or loved one
Whether you’re concerned about a 9-year-old or a 99-year-old, be aware that there are effective techniques available to help individuals overcome mental illnesses. Chronic stress experienced as a child can affect the developing brain and cause issues well into adulthood. Early intervention mental-health care can change that, and reduce the likelihood of repeated bouts and severity. A family physician or pediatrician can often offer a referral to the appropriate mental health care provider.
If they are threatening to hurt themselves or someone else:
Do not panic.
Make sure student is in care of someone trustworthy
Lock up and carefully account for household items such as knives, prescription drugs, and poisonous substances.
Call 911. Take threats of suicide seriously. Do not be scared to call 911; responders are there to help.
Support for LGBTQ young adults: www.trevorSpace.org
National Suicide Prevention LifeLine
The following seems repetitive, or will it be on a completely different page?
If anyone is threatening to hurt themselves or someone else:
1. Do not panic.
2. Make sure the student is in the care of someone trusted.
3. Remove firearms. Lock up and carefully account for household items such as knives, prescription drugs, and poisonous substances.
4. Call 911
Take threats of suicide seriously. Do not be scared to call …. they are there to help.
Links to Articles
Meditation – the practice of mindfulness – is a highly effective treatment for anxiety and depression. Find great information and resources at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkley
When You Have Lost Someone You Love
Whether you were close friends, haven’t talked to someone since grade school or you didn’t know them personally, the death of a peer to suicide hurts.
Read this article and share it with your friends. Support your friends. Talk with your parents/guardians or other trusted adults like your school counselor. You are not alone. Know that things will get better. Read about the Essentials to Thriving and find the ones that feel best for you.
Parents: When your child’s classmate dies by suicide
Start the conversation with your child. Ask them how they are feeling. Listen to them without judgment. Let them know you are there to support them. Protect them – trust your gut. If you are worried, reach out to school counselors, clergy or your family physician – just as you would if they had a physical condition that you weren’t sure how to treat. Read about the signs of distress and how you can help them find healthy coping skills with the Essentials to Thriving, here. (Sean: This took me to an IT page without content.) Take a look at this too: http://www.sptsusa.org/teens/when-a-friend-dies-by-suicide/
Essentials to Thriving
Thriving isn’t about being perfect; it doesn’t mean you don’t have problems. Thriving means you can work through adversity and recover and grow from the experience.
“The Essentials to Thriving” by Dr. Read Sulik gives you the skills to help overcome stress and trauma and to Imagine Thriving. Want to take these tips with you? Download a PDF version of the Essentials to Thriving.
Sleep and mental well-being are more connected than you might think. While insomnia has long been thought to be a symptom of depression, a recent study found that disruptions to sleep may actually contribute to mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. This is because a lack of sleep affects the part of your brain responsible for regulating emotions.
Because of this, it’s important to encourage habits that promote better sleep. This includes going to bed and waking up at the same time each day—even on weekends. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of good sleep each night. It is also a good idea to keep your room nice and dark and to avoid any electronic devices for at least 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep.
Healthy sleep habits have the power to increase brain function, improve memory and reduce stress. When it comes to being well, sleeping well is an essential piece in the puzzle.
It is true that you are what you eat, so in order to be well, it is essential to eat well. There are several key ingredients to this recipe: lots of fruits and vegetables, balancing your plate, and never skipping meals.
Some foods have been positively linked to decreased symptoms of depression. Try to add more nutrients like B-12, folate, and Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Foods rich in these nutrients include fish like salmon or trout, fortified breakfast cereals, almonds, and dark, leafy greens.
It is also important to limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. Caffeine can contribute to feelings of restlessness or anxiety, and alcohol increases stress and can disturb sleep.
Overall, putting good things into your body will help your body do good things for you. A well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and other essential nutrients has been proven to boost both physical and mental well-being.
Your mind and body are interconnected, which is why it is so important to spend some time each day being active. This does not have to be a 10-mile run, by any means! Even something as simple as a walk around the block or playing fetch with your dog can significantly elevate your mood.
Not only will staying active benefit your physical health, but it can also improve the body’s “recovery time” during moments of over-stimulation and anxiety. Exercise reduces stress and anxiety while elevating your mood by stimulating the release of endorphins. In fact, scientists have found that regular exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as medication—without any of the side effects.
It is recommended to get around 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that being active for even 10 minutes a day can positively affect your mental health.
If you are unable to make it to a gym, there are plenty of ways to be active at home! Taking a bike ride, shooting some hoops, following along to a YouTube yoga video, or having a living room dance party are all fantastic ways to get moving.
You’ve heard it before: “Just take a deep breath.” While it can seem cliché, taking a few moments each day to pause and be intentional with your breathing has the potential to significantly improve your overall well-being. The way you breathe impacts the entire body, which is why a deep breath holds so much healing power. Every relaxation technique in the book, at its core, begins with mindful breathing.
When placed in a stressful situation, the body’s natural response is to increase your heart and breathing rate. Therefore, by taking a slow, deep breath, you can bring immediate relief by reversing the body’s stress response. Intentional breathing can also be used to reduce anxiety, control anger, fall asleep, and manage cravings.
Take a moment right now to practice deep breathing. Place one hand on your stomach and feel it rise and fall. Inhale slowly through your nose for four seconds. Hold this breath for seven seconds, and slowly release it through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat this pattern for four full breaths and take note of how you feel. Called 4-7-8 breathing, this method harnesses your breath into a positive relaxation technique within minutes. By practicing mindful breathing a few times each day or whenever you feel anxious or stressed, you will be on the path to thriving.
Your thoughts hold great power, so it is important to harness that power for good. Be intentional about the things you think about, and welcome positive thoughts. With practice, you can stop negative or worrying ideas before they become dangerous.
When you notice yourself thinking about something negative, pause. Ask if this thought is important. For example, will this thing matter in a week? In a year? This will help put the issue in perspective. It can also be helpful to set the thought aside to be worried about later. Find something to distract yourself with until the thought passes.
It is also helpful to practice positive self-talk. This involves first acknowledging a negative thought and then replacing the negative statements. For example, if you feel like a failure because of a bad grade, catch that thought and reverse it to something that makes you proud. Maybe you struggle in math but are great at softball. Remind yourself that you have different strengths and talents and are working to be better every day.
Finally, cherish your positive thoughts. When you are feeling happy or grateful, notice and savor the moment. Journal or tell a friend to spread the joy. Studies have shown that sharing a positive event will make you enjoy it even more.
Oftentimes, the key to feeling better is opening up. Whether to a friend, family member or therapist, share your innermost thoughts and feelings. Talking through thoughts and problems with someone you trust is vital to mental wellbeing.
It can be difficult to talk about how you are doing, but it is so important. And it’s a two-way street. If you are vulnerable to someone who cares about you, they may feel comfortable doing the same.
No matter how you are feeling, it is beneficial to put it into words. Acknowledge when you have a good day or a bad day. Your relationships will benefit from more honest and open conversations about mental health. Finally, the people who care about you most cannot help until they know how you are feeling.
It can be scary, but speaking openly about your thoughts is vital to good mental health and overall well-being.
Humans are social beings, which means that we are not meant to go through hard times alone. Stay connected to your friends and family and trust them to help when you need it. Connections with people who care about you can offer concrete help, emotional support, new perspectives, advice, and validation.
Carve out time to be intentional about strengthening the important relationships in your life. Also, it is important to show your connections how much they mean to you. This can be something simple like a laugh shared over lunch or a short text letting them know you appreciate them.
Finally, it is critical to let your friends and family know when you need extra support. You are not a burden, and even the best of friends cannot read your mind. Ask for specific kinds of help. Sometimes just being with another person is enough, but other times you may need a heart-to-heart talk.
Building up a solid network of connections who support and care for you not only improves mental health and overall well-being but also has been proven to contribute to better physical health and longer life. Never forget that there are people who love you.
TEND TO YOUR SPIRIT
Spirituality means something different to everyone, but you can think about tending to your spirit as spending time connecting with things that bring you peace. Whether it’s art, nature, faith, music, athletics, journaling or meditation—tending to your spirit will help you create the mindfulness that can grow with you.
It may seem abstract, and that is because it is! Every person will find spirituality in different ways. For some, this looks like attending church or reading religious texts, but for others, spirituality is more unstructured and individual.
A great place to start exploring spirituality is with meditation or the practice of mindfulness. Meditating takes only a few minutes each day and has been proven to help with anxiety and depression, as well as physical ailments such as chronic pain or high blood pressure. There are many ways to practice meditation, such as repeating a mantra, deep breathing, or visualization. If you do not know where to begin, try following along with an online video or an app on your phone.
Regardless of how you practice, spirituality provides a tool to help us understand suffering, serves as a reminder of the good in the world and becomes a platform for exploring your sense of purpose and meaning.
Do not be afraid or embarrassed to seek help. Know that if you are hurting, you are not alone. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, get help right away. Call 1-800-273-TALK to reach the 24-hour crisis center or 911 if it’s an emergency.
But do not wait until you are in crisis to seek help! Everyone can benefit from the support and encouragement that a counselor or therapist can provide. A mental health professional can help you come up with solutions to problems, feel more confident in your ability to face challenges, and find ways to change your thinking to promote positive self-talk.
Seeking help can be as simple as making an appointment with your school counselor or finding a health provider in your community.
Acknowledging when you need some extra support is important and courageous. It is a sign of great strength to take this step toward better mental health.
Resources for wellbeing:
Sometimes the most difficult thing is to know where to look for help when you’re ready to ask for it. Below are a variety of resources that will connect you or a loved one with a service committed to their well-being.
If you're struggling
If you’re struggling, think about how you’ve been feeling. Then answer these questions:
Do you feel sad or angry a lot?
Is life getting hard because you feel so bad you can’t keep up?
Do you avoid spending time with friends? Have you stopped doing things you like to do?
Do your family or friends think you have a “bad attitude?”
Do you have problems with sleep (meaning all you want to do is sleep or you just can’t sleep)?
Is your appetite changing (eating more than normal or not eating)?
Are you abusing drugs or alcohol?
Are you hurting yourself (cutting, eraser burns, etc.)?
Do you wish that you weren’t here?
Imagine Thriving, an initiative of
Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota
(701) 235-7341 Office | (701) 235-7359 Fax
© 2019 Imagine Thriving & Lutheran Social Services
of North Dakota - All rights reserved
Imagine Thriving c/o Lutheran Social Services of ND