The importance of checking in on others’ mental health

May – Mental Health Awareness Month – is the perfect time to support the mental health of our community.

One way to do that is by checking in with the people in your life by asking how they’re doing and really listening to their answer. You can do this in person, by phone, email, text or more. A small effort can have a big impact!

Checking in can help people feel supported and learn that you are a person they can turn to when they are in need. It’s especially important during this time because the COVID-19 crisis may have intensified some people’s feelings of loneliness and many are feeling overwhelmed after taking on additional roles during the pandemic.

Each week of the Check-in Challenge, we’ll check in on a new group. But first, here are some strategies to consider when checking in with someone:

  1. Ask open-ended questions: So, what’s new with you? How have you been managing? How have you taken care of yourself today? Is there anything I can do to help support you?
  2. Wait and listen for the answer: You don’t need to have answers or solutions to problems. Sometimes, just having someone available who is earnestly listening is enough to make a person feel supported.
  3. Follow up: Stay engaged by asking questions with interest. This can help someone explore and explain how they are really feeling. Don’t be afraid to connect them with resources and keep in touch by following up.

Without further ado, first up on the check-in list are caregivers. The people who are looking after others often put themselves last.

teacher helps and explains to children how to disinfect their hands

How to Check In with Caregivers

Here are some things you can say or ask to check in with the caregivers in your life:

  1. “Hey, I wanted to hear more about what’s been going on.”
  2. “I wanted to see how I could support you.” This, instead of saying, “Let me know how I can help,” is a collaborative and more forward way to ask how you might help ease stress. You could also ask, “What does support look like for you right now?”
  3. “What do you need right now?”
  4. “Just a quick reminder that you are loved.”
  5. “How are you managing everything right now?”
  6. “How are you taking care of yourself?”
  7. “Have you been able to find time to rest?” How have you been sleeping?” or “What does rest look like for you right now?”
  8. “What was your last full meal and have you been drinking enough water?”
  9. “What is something you can do today that would be good for you?”

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