V-A-R

www.ZeroAttempts.org

What is V-A-R?
Self-care and Mental Health
Signs and Symptoms
Self-Harm Myths & Misconceptions
Offering Help
Be there for...a friend
Be there for...a family member
Be there for...your students
What We Say Matters
Self-Harm Myths & Misconceptions
Prevention & Awareness
9 Tips to Help Support a Friend With Mental Illness

What is V-A-R?


Basic V-A-R is Active Minds’ everyday guide for everyday challenges. It’s about showing up for one another in our everyday struggles.

The letters V-A-R correspond to three steps: Validate-Appreciate-Refer. The steps are easy-to-understand, easy-to-do, and easy-to-remember. They provide a guide to listening and responding in a helpful way.

V-A-R conversations can take many forms — phone, in-person, text message, Facetime. The medium doesn’t matter as much as the message that you care.

Why V-A-R is important

A conversation can be life changing. For many people, feeling supported is just what they need.

It can be challenging, though, to know exactly what to say when someone tells you they are stressed, having a difficult day, or are in pain or have a mental health need.

Active Minds suggests an approach that includes 3 V-A-R Steps so you’ll know what to say and do in those moments. A conversation that includes the elements of Validate-Appreciate-Refer is one that allows you to actively listen to someone you care about and help them cope or bounce back. A conversation with you could make all the difference and prevent a crisis from developing later.

With V-A-R, Active Minds lets everyone know that someone doesn’t need to be in a crisis to seek help; you don’t have to be an expert to provide help; and help can come in many different forms. Being there for someone in a moment of need is what it’s all about.

It can be really challenging to know what to say or how to respond to someone when they confide in you. Having a roadmap like V-A-R makes it easier to focus on helping the other person rather than worrying about saying the ‘right’ thing. - Megan Larson

V-A-R

Having a conversation that includes three elements — Validate, Appreciate, and Refer — is a way to listen to someone you care about and help them cope or bounce back. It’s an approach that could make all the difference to that person and help prevent a crisis. You can download a V-A-R Wallet Card to keep these steps handy.

1. Validate their feelings

Let them know what they’re feeling is okay and that you believe them. Validation sounds like…

When you reach out to someone, validate their feelings and acknowledge that they’re real. Even though feelings might not seem rational or easy to explain, they are always valid. People can’t control their feelings like they might be able to their thoughts or behaviors.

Let them know what they’re feeling makes sense and you hear them and are listening. Do so by paraphrasing/echoing/mirroring their sentiments. Repeat back to them their own words regarding how they’re feeling or what they’re going through. Rephrasing is also a way to make sure you’re understanding correctly (“I hear that you’re feeling X, is that right?”).

Validation sounds like...

  • “That makes sense.”
  • “That sounds difficult.”
  • “I’m sorry you are struggling right now.”
  • “I believe you.”
  • “I hear you.”
  • “It seems like you’re having a particularly hard moment.”
  • “It makes a lot of sense that you are stressed.”
  • “You have a lot on your plate.”
  • “Sounds like you’re having a really tough time right now.”
  • “I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling right now.”
  • “That must be really difficult to cope with.”

2. Appreciate their courage

Speaking up can be a challenging step — let them know it’s a good one. Also show you’re there to support them.

It’s often not easy for a person to admit they’re struggling. Say you’re glad they opened up to you and acknowledge that taking such a step isn’t easy. Let them know they’re doing the right thing by putting words to their feelings.

It can be very helpful to hear your encouragement. Show that you’re there to support them. Use this opportunity to let them know you care and they’re not alone.

Appreciate sounds like...

  • “Thank you for sharing.”
  • “Thank you so much for talking to me. That took a lot of courage.”
  • “It took courage to share with me. I love you and I’m here for you. Thank you for being open with me.”
  • “I’m here for you if you want to talk or need anything.”
  • “You are not alone.”
  • “I will support you through this tough time.”
  • “I struggle sometimes too.”
  • “We all need support sometimes.”

3. Refer them to skills and support

Let them know help is available and refer them to appropriate resources.

Sometimes what a person needs is a listening ear, a study buddy, encouragement, or time together. Active Minds chapters are a great way for students to come together and know they’re not alone.

OREGON
  • Linfield College (McMinnville, OR)
  • Linn-Benton Community College (Albany, OR)
  • Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR)
  • University of Portland (Portland, OR)
  • Willamette University (Salem, OR)

Other times, extra skills and resources is what would help. These can include self-care suggestions or coping strategies, especially those suggested by a counselor. You can share what skills and support you’ve drawn from. What helps you feel better when you are stressed or feeling down?

If their need for support is greater, suggest your campus counseling center or other mental health professional. The Referral Resources page lists many options. Offer to stay with them while they call or go with them to their appointment — this reinforces the fact you’re there to support them and they’re not alone.

If your friend is in crisis, see the Crisis Information: Get Help Now page for hotlines and other sources of immediate help.

Remember that this conversation may be ongoing. Following up with the person the next day, or soon, is always a good idea, too.

Refer Sounds Like…

  • “Sometimes taking time for self-care and listening to a comedy podcast helps me, can we do that together?”
  • “I’ve been using this meditation app. It’s really helped me slow down my thoughts.”
  • “I think it might be helpful to talk to someone. I can stay with you while we call/text a hotline.”
  • “Come shoot some hoops with me for a little while and we can talk about it more.”
  • “Can we make plans to go on a run together tomorrow?”
  • “I’m going to be volunteering at the soup kitchen tomorrow, do you want to come with me?”
  • “Let’s spend a weekend baking and watching movies together.”
  • “There are places we can get support.”
  • “I know Active Minds provides education about mental health difficulties and is a supportive environment, would you want to go to a meeting and meet people who understand?”
Just three simple steps. But it means so much.

An example of V-A-R in action

In this real-life example, Megan recognized that there might be more to her roommate’s story:

My roommate was stressed about midterms and was having trouble sleeping and concentrating. He came home one day frustrated by the response he had received after confiding in his friends.

They had told him things like: ‘You’re in college, we’re all stressed,’ ‘That’s just midterms,’ and ‘You’ll get over it.’

He didn’t feel like his friends were really listening or that they understood the extent of his anxiety. It wasn’t just about exams.

Megan’s subsequent response to her roommate shows V-A-R in action.

She first validated his feelings: “That sounds really difficult. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and stressed, especially during exams.”

She then appreciated his courage: “I’m glad you shared this with me — I know it isn’t always easy.”

Finally, she referred him to appropriate skills and support: “It might be helpful to talk to someone about how you’re feeling and what’s keeping your mind racing.” and “Have you tried engaging in some self-care activities? I know exercise usually helps you relax. Have you been to the gym lately?”

When to use V-A-R

Here are some things you might hear a friend, family member, or colleague say that suggests they may need support. Consider these to be an opening to having a fuller conversation. Respond with the V-A-R steps in mind — Validate-Appreciate-Refer.

  • “I’m just having a hard time lately.”
  • “It’s hard to get going with my day sometimes.”
  • “I’m really stressed out.”
  • “It’s just so hard to cope with everything.”
  • “I’ve been feeling really anxious lately.”
  • “I’m so exhausted.”
  • “I have too much going on.”
  • “I’m feeling really overwhelmed.”

If you hear a friend mention the word suicide or suggest they are considering hurting themselves (for example, suggesting they want to end it all), it’s critical to help them seek professional help. See our Signs and Symptoms page for more information.

V-A-R is for non-crisis situations

Basic V-A-R is a guide to how to respond to everyday troubles in a helpful way. For many situations, you don’t have to be an expert to help – you just have to be there. Have a conversation to let someone know, I’m here for you, and then refer them to additional sources of support.
Source: www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/basic-var/

Self-care and Mental Health


Ideally, we all engage in regular self-care in which we do the things that make us feel taken care of mentally, physically, and emotionally. But this doesn’t always happen, and we may need to stop and take the time to remind ourselves we are important, too.

Sometimes our feelings become too much and we need to distract ourselves until we are better able to cope. We can also strategically change how we are feeling when things become too overwhelming.

What is self-care?

Self-care is important to maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It means doing things to take care of our minds, bodies, and souls by engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Doing so enhances our ability to live fully, vibrantly, and effectively. The practice of self-care also reminds both you and others that your needs are valid and a priority.

Examples of self-care

  • Clean
  • Cook or bake
  • Cross something off your to-do list
  • Exercise
  • Get a massage
  • Go for a walk
  • Listen to music or a podcast
  • Make art
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness exercises
  • Play a game
  • Practice deep breathing
  • Read
  • Take a bath
  • Take a (timed) nap
  • Watch TV or a movie
  • Yoga
  • distraction as a strategy

Why should I distract myself?

Activities are a great way for us to distract ourselves from our current emotions until we are better able to cope. When our level of distress is too high, we may not be able to effectively handle a situation and need ways to bring our emotional state down. Some suggestions may seem similar to self-care, but distraction activities serve a different purpose. One person’s self-care activity is another’s distraction technique.

Examples of distraction activities

  • Call a friend (and don’t talk about what’s causing you distress)
  • Create something
  • Describe your surroundings using your five senses
  • Do a puzzle
  • Do something kind for someone else
  • Focus on a single task
  • Go out to eat
  • Go to an event
  • Hold ice
  • Listen to music or a podcast
  • Make a list of things (cars, dog breeds, music artists, etc.)
  • Take a hot or cold shower
  • Try something new
  • Volunteer
  • Watch something funny
  • Watch TV or a movie
  • changing our emotions

Is my response warranted?

Check to see if the situation warrants the response you’re having. Examine the facts. While our emotions are always valid, they are not always justified. Look to see if your emotional response matches the circumstances.

Am I being effective?

Examine whether what you’re doing is helping or hurting the situation. If it’s making things worse, do the opposite of whatever it is you feel like doing. Commit to it. If you want to stay home and isolate, force yourself to go out where there are people. If you’re angry and want to yell, try avoiding the person who your anger is directed towards.

Source: www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/self-care/

Signs and Symptoms


Recognize these signs of mental illness

Mental illness is treatable and you deserve to get better

Never be afraid to ask for help

Here are 12 signs you might notice in yourself or a friend that are good reasons to reach out and talk with someone.

These signs are not always universal. Some people may show behavioral changes, while others show physical symptoms. Men and women can also exhibit signs of depression differently. However, if you recognize any of these signs for more than several days in yourself, a friend, or family member, seeking help should always be your first step so you can get them the care they need.

1. Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, depressed mood, poor self-esteem, or guilt

2. Withdrawal from friends, family, and activities you used to enjoy

3. Changes in eating or sleeping patterns. Are you sleeping all the time or having trouble falling asleep? Are you gaining weight or never hungry?

4. Anger, rage, or craving revenge. Are you overreacting to criticism?

5. Feeling tired or exhausted all of the time

6. Trouble concentrating, thinking, remembering, or making decisions. Are you suddenly struggling in school? Are your grades dropping?

7. Restless, irritable, agitated, or anxious movements or behaviors

8. Regular crying

9. Neglect of personal care. Have you stopped caring about your appearance or stopped keeping up with your personal hygiene?

10. Reckless or impulsive behaviors. Are you drinking or using drugs excessively? Are you behaving unsafely in other ways?

11. Persistent physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems, or chronic pain that do not respond to routine treatment

12. Thoughts about death or suicide

Warning signs for suicide

If you’re worried a friend or family member is thinking about suicide, immediate action is critical. See the Warning Signs for Suicide or the Crisis Information: Get Help Now page

some statements to pay attention to

Here are some statements that indicate you or your friend should probably seek help.

  • “It’s just so hard to get out of bed lately.”
  • “I just can’t deal with life right now.”
  • “I just want to sleep and never wake up.”
  • “Everything is too much.”

Seeking help is really worth it

There are many places you can turn for advice, support, and treatment. Getting help will get you feeling better. See the Referral Resources page
Source:
www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/signs-and-symptoms/.

Offering Help


be there for a friend or family member

What to do when a friend or loved one is struggling with their mental health

Reaching out is important

Knowing that a friend or loved one is struggling with their mental health can be scary and confusing. You may feel helpless, but you can make a difference by listening, being prepared, and knowing when to act.

Knowing the questions to ask, how to connect your friend or loved one to help, and the do’s and don’ts of talking to the person you’re concerned about regarding mental health will go a long way.

Most of all, you should know that walking beside your friend or family member says a lot about your compassion and empathy. You’re incredible, and we’re so glad they have you.

What to expect when offering help

Everyone’s mental health treatment and recovery journey is different. But here are some things you might encounter while you walk through this mental health journey with your friend or family member.

Expect to be emotional

You care deeply and a loved one is struggling. They likely haven’t been the person you’re used to. It might be clear that something is wrong or something in your gut might just be making you worried. Either way there will be some emotions to process.

Expect to grow

Dealing with matters of the mind, brain, heart, emotions, and health are tough but some of the most important stuff of life. Helping friends or family members through challenge, illness, struggle –- it’s not easy. It will stretch you and challenge you, but you’ll likely learn a lot along the way -– about yourself, about your friend or family member, and important skills for being there for anyone who is struggling.

Expect to feel frustrated

Your friend or family member is probably frustrated with not feeling like themselves and the process of trying to change that, and so you likely will, too. Try to think ahead about what will help you keep calm and take care of yourself when frustration creeps in. You might find it helpful to find a song or video that helps to reinstate your hope

Expect to want to walk away

Your friend or family member will want to walk away, and so you likely will, too. Keep a list of the reasons why it’s worth it to stick it out. And remember, you might have to walk away for a while to take care of yourself. Try not to burn your bridges in the process, though. Be honest about how you feel, and state your hope to rejoin the journey with compassion in the future.

Expect to refer more than once

Treatment and recovery are not linear processes. Your friend or family member may have to use different kinds of resources at different times in their journey. The first time they seek help from one source probably won’t be the last time, so do your best to be prepared with resources they may need when they ask or sit by them while they search for more.

Expect awkwardness

There are going to be times that you don’t know what to say or how to help. Be honest about it. Remain open. Wait for the awkwardness to resolve.

Expect irritability

Many mental health disorders come with irritability. It makes sense. If you’re the person who is trying to help your friend or family member root out the disorder, that disorder is going to tell them they should push you away. Stand your ground. Keep your cool. Understand that it’s not personal; it’s the illness.

Expect intense joy

We have talked a lot about what a slog being a support person can be. But anytime your friend or family member makes even a little bit of progress, those times can bring intense joy. Celebrate those victories with them or alone (depending on what they want), but don’t let them go uncelebrated. Those victories are proof of your friend’s or family member’s ability to recover.

Expect positive shifts

No, your relationship will probably never be the same. You may need to grieve those changes. However, recovery can be the start of an even stronger, healthier relationship. Leave yourself open to those possibilities!

The “S” Word

Talking about suicide will not give someone thoughts they did not already have. Rather, it will let your friend or family member know you are there for them and are open for any and all conversation. You then will be a source of support if things become difficult in the future.

Know that it might be hard for them to accept help

Helping a friend or family member get the help they need is rarely an efficient process. There are a lot of stages that a person has to go through to find the courage and confidence to get help. As hard as it can be to be patient with your friend or family member, they’re probably not going to move as quickly toward help as you’d like them to, and that can take a toll on you, as well.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

Leave yourself open

If your friend or family member needs to continue processing in order to take the next step to get help, let them know that you’re there to help them reason through that decision and will be there before, during, and after.

Cultivate support systems for them

Quietly team up with friends and others who are concerned about your friend or family member and solidify those connections. Your friend or family member doesn’t need to know that this is happening — in fact, to them it may seem like you’re ganging up — but the better people can communicate the pieces of information they know and put them all together, the more supported your friend or family member will feel.

Cultivate your own support system

Helping a friend or family member through the process of help-seeking can be hard on the helper. Find someone you can debrief with and ways that you can make sure to look after yourself. You might also find someone who can help reinforce your boundaries so that you can follow through on your commitments and self-care.

Explore your resources

Often it’s hard to know what to say or how to help a friend or family member who is still refusing to seek help. If you’re out of ideas and growing impatient, seek out a counselor who can consult with you on ways to move forward. They’re the experts and they’ve guided othersthrough these processes in the past.

Know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em

You might be asked to keep your friend’s or family member’s secrets. Sometimes this is okay as it strengthens trust and keeps the lines of communication open. But if they ever tell you anything that is way beyond what you can handle or indicates that they may be a threat to themselves or others, it’s time to talk to an expert. Your friend or family member may be angry with you, but not keeping their secrets could save their life.

more info on offering help and being there for: A Friend, A Family Member, Your Students
Source: www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/be-there/

Be there for… a friend


Oftentimes we’ve noticed a change in our friend that we want to address, but don’t know how

67% of college students tell a friend they are feeling suicidal before telling anyone else.

Letting your friend know you care

When you have a friend and you’re concerned about their mental health, sometimes its difficult to know what to do next. What do we say? How do we say it? What do we do it it doesn’t go well the first time?

These are all questions we may find ourselves asking when considering approaching a friend. It’s important to go into the conversation prepared and come out of it knowing how to support not only our friend, but ourselves too.

Questions you can ask

  • “I’ve noticed you haven’t been acting like yourself lately. I’m worried about you, is something going on?”
  • What are you experiencing? What does it feel like?
  • Can I help you find someone to see about your concerns?
  • Have you been having thoughts about trying to kill yourself?
  • “Do you want me to walk with you to the counseling center?
  • “What can I do to help?”

The “S” Word: Talking about suicide will not give someone thoughts they did not already have. Rather, it will let your friend know you are there for them and are open for any and all conversation. You will then be a source of support if things become difficult in the future.

How to have the conversation

Pick a place you both feel safe

Talking about your concerns can be uncomfortable for both people. Pick a place where you both feel safe, but emphasize your friend’s comfort. If possible, let them decide where to meet. It should be a place where they feel on equal footing with you. Privacy is essential.

Make sure you have plenty of time

Pick a time with flexibility. The conversation may be short, but just in case, make sure neither of you have anywhere to be immediately. You don’t want to have to stop the conversation.

Talk one-on-one

You and several other people may be concerned about your friend, but approaching them one-on-one is the best practice. It prevents your friend from feeling overwhelmed and attacked.

Use “I” statements

“I” statements are a critical tool when broaching any delicate topic with a friend. These statements help you express your concern and own your own feelings without seeming judgmental. They encourage conversation and problem-solving. Here are some examples:

You can formulate an “I” statement by describing your feelings in relationship to the changes you’ve noticed and suggesting action steps.

  • I feel [emotion]
  • When [action or behavior]
  • Because [reason you feel the named emotion]
  • I’m wondering if [action step]
  • I feel concerned when you can’t get out of bed because I care about you. I’m wondering if talking to a counselor might help.

Summarize and Paraphrase

Active listening helps you avoid making assumptions. Summarizing and re-phrasing what your friend is saying allows you to ensure you are following correctly and signal that you’re seeking to truly understand what they’re going through. This also provides your friend the opportunity to clarify if you’re not fully understanding what they’re saying.

Ask open-ended questions

Asking open-ended questions is a thing we all think we do really well, but almost none of us do. Yes or no questions not only give you a paltry amount of information, but they make assumptions about what your friend is thinking or feeling. Ask questions that require a “short answer” instead of a true or false.

Recognize you don't exactly understand

Even if you have struggled with similar circumstances or feelings in the past, you will never understand exactly what your friend is going through. Remind yourself and your friend of this. There will be aspects of their situation or illness that you will be able to relate to, but invite them to be honest with you about what their journey is like and how you can help.

Reinforce your love

Let your friend know you are there to support them. Tell them while you may not entirely understand, you want to help because you care for them. Your friend may fear you will leave them, so acknowledge your commitment to them.

Expect to not always know what to say or how to help

It can be difficult to know how to respond, and sometimes we don’t know how to help. This is completely normal. You can never go wrong with offering affirmations, such as…

  • You’ve made me a better person.
  • I’m so proud of you.
  • I appreciate how thoughtful and caring you are.
  • You are worthy of life, love, and happiness.
  • I’m so thankful you’re in my life.

Know your resources

Whether it’s the first conversation or the fifth, be prepared to give your friend some resources to check out. Your friend may want you to be with them when they call or may want you to go with them to their first appointment.

Take care of yourself, too

Know you are doing the right thing

Your friends are lucky to have you looking out for them. But sometimes distress keeps them from appreciating you. Be prepared to be met with anger, denial and/or rejection. Know that you’re doing the right thing, and their reaction isn’t about you.

Ensure you have your own support system

Have your own support network. Helping a friend through a tough time can be hard on the helpers, too. Make sure you are looking after your own physical and mental health. Whatever it is that keeps you centered and boosts your mood and energy, keep it going. These are things that you can’t sacrifice! See the Self-Care page for some tips.

9 Tips to Help Support a Friend With Mental Illness
Source: www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/be-there/friend/

Be there for… a family member


Even when our family member knows in their head we love them, it can be difficult to feel it’s true.

Empowering the ones we love

It’s hard to see a family member we care about struggling with their mental health. Our support is incredibly helpful to the one we care about, so we need to remind them of our love for them.

Communication is key. It’s important to share your thoughts and observations, but also to allow your family member to express themselves. With our family we may want to jump in and fix the problem, but we must work with our loved one to develop strategies to cope with the situation and find reasonable solutions. We want them to feel empowered.

Family communication tips

Listen actively

Active listening helps you avoid making assumptions. Summarizing and re-phrasing what your loved one is saying allows you to ensure you are following correctly and signal that you’re seeking to truly understand what they’re going through.This also provides your loved one the opportunity to clarify if you’re not fully understanding what they’re saying.

Use “I” statements

“I” statements are a critical tool when broaching any delicate topic with a friend. These statements help you express your concern and own your own feelings without seeming judgmental. They encourage conversation and problem-solving. Here are some examples:

  • You can formulate an “I” statement by describing your feelings in relationship to the changes you’ve noticed and suggesting action steps.
  • I feel [emotion]
  • When [action or behavior]
  • Because [reason you feel the named emotion]
  • I’m wondering if [action step]
  • I feel concerned when you can’t get out of bed because I care about you. I’m wondering if talking to a counselor might help.

Let them speak

The support many family members need and are looking for is simply someone to talk to who will listen. Let your loved one speak freely and share what they want. Don’t interrupt. Ask open-ended questions that require a short answer, rather than “yes” or “no,” to get more information so you can better support them.

Leave them plenty of time

Pick a time with flexibility. The conversation may be short, but just in case, make sure neither of you have anywhere to be immediately. You don’t want to have to stop the conversation.

Choose an appropriate time and place

Try to avoid speaking with your loved one when they are dealing with stressful things in the moment. If they are already having a difficult time, engaging in a conversation about your concerns may not be as well received as it would if you wait until a later time. Talking about your concerns can be uncomfortable for both people. Pick a place where you both feel safe, but emphasize your loved one’s comfort. If possible, let them decide where to meet. It should be a place where they feel on equal footing with you. Privacy is essential.

Reinforce your love

Let your family member know you are there to support them. Tell them while you may not entirely understand, you want to help because you care for them. Your loved one may fear you will leave them, so acknowledge your commitment to https://www.activeminds.org/blog/what-we-say-matters/ them.

Don't solve problems, listen and collaborate

It can be difficult not to jump into problem-solving mode, but this often isn’t what your family member wants or needs. Discuss with your loved one how they want to be supported and offer what you can. Listen to their concerns and work collaboratively with them to think of ways to help them through the difficult times. Allow your family member to take ownership of their well-being and guide the process.

The “S” Word: Talking about suicide will not give someone thoughts they did not already have. Rather, it will let your loved one know you are there for them and are open for any and all conversation. You then will be a source of support if things become difficult in the future.

Top links

Source: www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/be-there/family/ 

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Be there for… your students


Students need to hear that their mental well-being is more important than any grade or class.
Discuss taking care of one’s mental health as a priority.

 

Supporting your students so they can shine

As educators, we support our students so they can achieve their goals. This often involves academic assistance that helps students be successful with learning.

But what happens when the reason a student is struggling has more to do with mental health issues than academic issues? There are several things you can do to help, such as educating yourself about the warning signs to look out for, making adjustments to your teaching, or being prepared to approach students with helpful resources.

Some helpful strategies

Be open

Let students know they are welcome to come speak with you about their concerns, whether academic or personal.

Be upfront

Address mental health early on. Share that you are there for your students and want to be a source of support. You want your students to succeed academically, and are obviously there if they need academic assistance, but you are also available should they be experiencing mental health difficulties.

Add notes to your syllabi

Include the phone number for your campus’ Counseling and Psychological Services on the syllabus. Discuss taking care of one’s mental health as a priority. Your students need to hear their mental well-being is more important than any class.

Suicide is a leading cause of death among college students,
but mental illness is treatable and suicide is preventable.

Offer alternatives

Though it can be difficult and may require extra work on your part, students who need accommodations will be immensely grateful for your understanding and support.

You can, for example, offer alternatives to assignments that may be difficult for students who are having mental health difficulties. For many students, asking for an alternative assignment is a difficult thing to do, so meet them with support and understanding. Examine what the purpose of the assignment or grade component is, and think creatively to suggest an alternative such as the following.

Class participation vs reading responses

If the purpose of class participation is to show a student has completed the readings, offer the opportunity to do reading responses instead.

Cold calling vs pop quizzes

Cold-calling can be extremely anxiety-inducing for some students. Students have been known to drop a class if this is a policy due to fear of being called on. If the goal is to ensure students are prepared for class, try implementing pop quizzes.

Public speaking vs recorded or narrated presentation

If a student is unable to do public speaking in class, offer to allow them to narrate their presentation and present the video in class. Or, have them film their presentation in front of a group of people of their choosing and show that video in class.

Untreated mental health issues in the college student population — such as depression, anxiety, and
eating disorders — are associated with lower GPA and higher probability of dropping out of college.

Educate yourself and your students

Triggering content

Think about what you will be discussing and whether it may be potentially triggering to some students. Place a trigger warning before engaging in the topic so students can prepare themselves.

Person-first language

When describing someone with a mental illness, use person-first language. This means saying “person with bipolar disorder” rather than “bipolar person” or “person with anorexia” instead of “anorexic.” Also, it is best practice to say “died by suicide” rather than “committed suicide.” The word “committed” connotes a crime.

Warning signs

Educate yourself about the Signs and Symptoms of mental health problems. Look out for these symptoms in your students and address them early on if you have concerns.

Available resources on campus

Know what resources are available to your students and have the information on hand. See the Crisis Information: Get Help Now page if the student is in crisis. For other places to find help, see the Referral Resources page.

Almost one third of college students report having felt so depressed that they had trouble functioning.

Top links

Source: www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/be-there/your-students/

What We Say Matters


I’m here. I’m breathing. I’m alive. This surprises me sometimes. Then I remember how lucky I am for this second chance.

When I attempted suicide I felt there was no hope left. I couldn’t imagine another day, another hour, even another minute of enduring the pain I was in. I was tired of fighting and I gave into the darkness I fought so hard to keep at bay daily.

I wish someone had been there to ask me the hard questions. I needed someone to ask me those specific and targeted questions: was I having thoughts of hurting myself; did I have a plan; and did I have the means to carry out that plan? I needed someone to be a bright light for me, someone to reach across the darkness of my depression that had left me numb to all emotion.

I’m so grateful that I’m still alive to say that I am the survivor of a suicide attempt. My experience has contributed to my passion for mental health advocacy and given me the desire to educate others about suicide. After all, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and second among people aged 15-34 years.

Many are afraid to say the word “suicide,” especially to those they are concerned might be having suicidal thoughts; however, discussing suicide will not give someone the idea to take their life if they have not already thought about it themselves. Instead, letting go of the fear of the topic of suicide lets the person know that you are there for them.

Although I had a newfound sense of hope and desire to live after my attempt, those around me were careful to watch over me. They were unsure what to say or do. The first few days of my recovery seemed to have a strange quality to them. I felt disconnected and like I couldn’t participate in the world around me. I had all of these feelings but I couldn’t access them—I was in a bubble with my emotions just out of reach.

Although my parents were there for me, some of what they said and did was well-intentioned but misguided.

I had disrupted what was seemingly a typical Wednesday night for my parents and they didn’t know how to react. In trying to convey their love for me, they said things like, “doing silly things like this is the only thing that hurts us.” That sort of stuff had the opposite of its intended effect.

I was left feeling guilty for what I had done and that sense of guilt only reaffirmed my negative beliefs. I knew they just wanted to understand why I had done what I had, but the constant questioning about why and how and asking “didn’t you think about us—how this would affect us—it would kill us?” was too much for me. I was overwhelmed by the constant question of how I was feeling. I wanted to talk about these things at my own pace. I was surrounded not only by my own emotions about what had happened, but those of my parents as well.

My parents didn’t get it all wrong, though, and their hearts were definitely in the right place. They didn’t have information available to them, but through trial and error they became a great source of support in my recovery.

When I came home from the hospital, my recovery was the focus. They took me to the movies and let me choose dinner, we played with my dog, and we joked as usual. Once I was home they did their best to make me comfortable and help me return to normal daily life. I appreciated every time my mom or dad made the simple comments “I love you” or “I’m here for you.” It let me know that when I was ready we would talk about what had happened, but that they weren’t going to force the conversation.

To be there and support someone doesn’t mean you have to do some grand gesture, rather, simple and direct words and actions make all the difference. The hardest things to say often are the exact things that need to be said. We must overcome our fear of those close to us considering suicide in order to reach them and provide support before an attempt is made; after an attempt is made we must overcome our disbelief about what has happened and simply be there for the one we love. - Megan Larson

Are you or someone you know in crisis? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “SOS” to 741-741 to reach Crisis Text Line.
Source: www.activeminds.org/blog/what-we-say-matters/

9 Tips to Help Support a Friend With Mental Illness


Supporting a friend with a mental health issue or in a stressful situation can be difficult. Here are 9 simple tips that will help get the conversation started. Read more about how to help a friend.

1. Choose a suitable time.

2. Plan out your message in advance and make it straightforward.

3. Be honest and specific. Your friend will value what you have to say.

4. Describe what you have been observing (behavior changes, etc.)

5. Express how you feel about what you have observed.

6. Let your friend have a chance to talk and share their point of view.

7. Offer recommendations as to what your friend should do next and help them get educated and connected to resources.

8. Follow up to make sure they’re doing ok!

9. Take care of yourself, and remember not to blame yourself!
Source: www.activeminds.org/blog/9-tips-to-help-support-a-friend-with-mental-illness/

Prevention & Awareness


Where do we go from here?

Each year, millions of high school graduates make the transition into college life. Encouraged by parents and peers, the next few years are sure to be some of the best times of their life. While this may be true for some, mental health is a growing concern that is rising among college campuses across the…Learn more

Practice Suicide Prevention, Not Just Reaction

Whenever someone famous dies by suicide, I see my social media feeds fill with the numbers for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or text "SOS" to the Crisis Text Line (741741), and while that information is incredibly important to share, I am always left with a feeling that we could be doing more to prevent suicide in…Learn more

Men’s Health Month: Prioritizing Self-Care By Your Own Standards

Summer is in full swing! It’s time to find out if months of waiting and planning will pay off to make this summer one to remember! Like an over-reviewed blockbuster, sometimes summer can be overhyped. I know for me, while struggling with anxiety and depression, summer would sometimes become an anxious scramble to have as…Learn more

Mental Health Month – Parents’ Edition

May is “Mental Health Month.” In my opinion we should not just dedicate a month to mental health, but every single day! I understand the reasoning, but this topic is so important that it simply must have more focus. There is significantly more pressure on adolescents these days compared to when I was growing…Learn more

More to the Story: Our Take on 13 Reasons Why S2

Disclaimer: This post provides information regarding Netflix’s popular series 13 Reasons Why. Due to triggering and graphic content, Active Minds recommends that those who choose to watch do so with a friend or family member. We also recommend avoiding S1E13 (TW: suicide) and S2E13 (TW: sexual assault). Often, we hear about mental health only after…Learn more

Long Term Stress Requires Long Term Strategies

Each spring during Stress Less Week, we focus a great deal on the most present stressors in students’ lives: final exams. This means we also focus on the most immediate methods for dialing back that stress such as taking a walk or yoga class, listening to a comedy podcast, or moderating caffeine intake so that…Learn more

Oh, but my dear, what if you soar

It’s 75 degrees out and I’m on a long hike through the beautiful rolling hills of my hometown. My favorite place. My favorite activity. I hike at a quick pace when I’m alone, and love to feel my calves burn in that satisfying, muscle-working way. It’s warm and my heart is beating fast. Despite the…Learn more

How to Fight Stigma with Strength-Based Language

Stigma. What is it and why is it so important that we work together to get rid of it? Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, Ph.D., offers this definition of stigma, “Stigma is a perceived negative attribute that causes someone to devalue or think less of the whole person.” When referring to mental health, stigma prevents people from reaching…Learn more

Self-Harm Myths & Misconceptions

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), otherwise known as self-harm, is not a mental illness in itself, but a sign of a lack of adequate coping skills. It involves behaviors that intentionally harm oneself and is a sign of mental distress. Here are some common myths and misconceptions about self-harm, debunked: Only Teenage Girls Do It Self-harm affects…Learn more

Meeting Criteria

I was immune to Medical Student Syndrome. Even after completing all of my preclinical coursework and core clinical rotations, not once did I go running to Student Health thinking a headache was a brain tumor or that a peculiar bruise was most certainly a curious anemia. In fact, my time in medical school had nearly…Learn more
Source:
www.activeminds.org/blog/category/prevention-awareness/

Self-Harm Myths & Misconceptions


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), otherwise known as self-harm, is not a mental illness in itself, but a sign of a lack of adequate coping skills. It involves behaviors that intentionally harm oneself and is a sign of mental distress.

Here are some common myths and misconceptions about self-harm, debunked:

Only Teenage Girls Do It

Self-harm affects everyone. While it is true that that most individuals begin engaging in self-injurious behavior during their teen and young adult years, self-harm can occur at any stage of life and to anyone.

Self-Harm is Only Cutting

NSSI does include cutting, but it also encompasses behaviors such as: hitting, burning, or biting oneself. Cutting is the most well-known and visible form of self-harm, often portrayed in the media.

People Do It for Attention

A sense of guilt and shame often accompanies self-injurious behavior which can lead to a vicious cycle in which one self-harms, feels shame and guilt, and then self-harms again to deal with that emotional pain. There is a stigma attached to NSSI so people do their best to hide it. Even if someone is engaging in self-harm with the hope someone will notice, this is in an effort to form an emotional connection that conveys the struggle that individual is going through. It is a search for support, not attention.

Self-Harm is a Suicide Attempt

Self-harm, also known as non-suicidal self-injury, is just that–non-suicidal. Self-harm is a means to attempt to feel better, not end one’s life. It’s a method of coping with life so one can continue living through the emotional pain they are experiencing, not escape it through death. However, while self-injury is not a suicide attempt, it may increase the risk of an attempt in the future.

It’s Just Something You Can Outgrow

Self-harm is not a stage one goes through. Some people may engage in self-injury intermittently throughout their lives, stopping and then starting again. Others may do it for several years and then be able to find better coping skills that allow them to stop. There is no predictor for someone stopping NSSI.
Source: www.activeminds.org/blog/self-harm-myths-misconceptions/

©2007-2019, www.ZeroAttempts.org/var.html

I am a determined mental health advocate

 

What legal and regulatory issues should I consider before hosting on Airbnb?

When deciding whether to become an Airbnb host, it's important for you to understand how the laws work in your city.

 

Some cities have laws that restrict your ability to host paying guests for short periods. These laws are often part of a city's zoning or administrative codes. In many cities, you must register, get a permit, or obtain a license before you list your property or accept guests. Certain types of short-term bookings may be prohibited altogether. Local governments vary greatly in how they enforce these laws. Penalties may include fines or other enforcement.

 

These rules can be confusing. We're working with governments around the world to clarify these rules so that everyone has a clear understanding of what the laws are.

 

In some tax jurisdictions, Airbnb will take care of calculating, collecting, and remitting local occupancy tax on your behalf. Occupancy tax is calculated differently in every jurisdiction, and we’re moving as quickly as possible to extend this benefit to more hosts around the globe.

 

In the meantime, please review your local laws before listing your space on Airbnb. More information about your city's laws and regulations may be available on our Responsible Hosting page in the Your City's Regulations section.

 

By accepting our Terms of Service and activating a listing, you certify that you will follow your local laws and regulations.

 

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