Who knew Alabama would be so windy! Heading towards the final stretch of our southern tour, we set up Send Silence Packing at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. We were challenged by a few abnormally large wind gusts (one of which was strong enough to send a table onto its side), but this didn’t stop students from visiting the event.
We had a lot of opportunities at this display to talk with visitors about the language of mental health. One question that kept coming up was “I have a friend that has been acting differently, but I know they wouldn’t want me to ask them about it—what do I do then?” Starting the conversation can certainly be a challenge, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
This is a difficult answer, because the right way to go about it is going to be different for every person. When someone is struggling with their mental health they can certainly feel vulnerable and defensive when confronted. However, in most cases, regardless of how the individual initially reacts, talking to them WILL have positive results—even if they don’t show it right away. Simply knowing that someone is there for them can plant the seed to them opening up and facing what they need to face to become healthy again.
We have a responsibility to be there for the people around us when we’re able. It may be challenging, and the answer of how to approach as certain situation may not be clear at first, but it’s important to remember that reaching out will never do more harm than good.