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Supporting a Friend with a Mental Health Issue

Are you worried someone close to you might be battling with their mental health? You’re not alone. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans live with a mental health condition, many undiagnosed.

Like any other health problem, someone with a mental health issue needs extra love and support.  You may not be able to physically see the issue, but it doesn’t mean that you’re powerless to help. If you are unsure of how best to approach someone who may be struggling, these tips may help.

How to know when to help

It’s important to understand the warning signs that come with different mental health issues. Some signs that a friend or family member may need your help include: 

  • Suddenly they lack interest in hobbies and other interests they used to love
  • They are talking about taking their life or feeling hopeless
  • They are avoiding their close friends and family members
  • Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
  • They seem emotionally numb like they don’t feel anything anymore
  • They used to be healthy, but now they’re always saying they feel a bit sick or “off”
  • Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight; significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Drastic changes in mood, behavior, personality or sleeping habits.
  • They seem to be anxious or overwhelmed about situations or objects in life that seem normal to you and to others
  • Repeated use of drugs or drinking heavily to cope
  • They have mentioned or seem to be hearing strange voices or having unsettling thoughts

What you can do to help

Start the conversation

Just a simple conversation can go a long way in helping your friend. Share your observations with your friend. Focus on being nonjudgmental, compassionate and understanding. Make sure to actively listen and use “I” (instead of “you”) comments to get the conversation started.

Examples:

  • I've noticed that you haven't been acting like yourself lately. Do you want to talk about it?
  • I am someone who cares and wants to listen. What do you want me to know about how you are feeling?
  • I’ve noticed you’re [sleeping more, eating less, etc.]. Is everything okay?

Offer support

Keep in mind that your friend might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through or simply may not want your help right now. Be patient, understanding and provide them with hope. You can make sure they know they are not alone, it can be a comfort just to know that they have people that care.

 It’s also important to support their healthy behaviors. Strategies such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising can be helpful when managing one’s mental health. Supporting your friend by eliminating or reducing alcohol or drug use is another great way to help him or her build healthy habits.

Be a friend

Being a friend means being there in easy times and more difficult times. If your friend is experiencing a mental health condition, this is a time when he or she needs you the most. Sometimes just talking about it might help your friend feel less alone and more understood.

 Here are some ways you can show you care:

  • Be a resource for them by giving them ideas on where they can go to get help.
  • Check-in with them regularly.
  • Learn more about mental health conditions.
  • Treat them with a non-judgemental attitude, empathy, and honesty.

Get Advice

Helping a friend with mental illness can be hard to handle by yourself. Don't hesitate to reach out to someone and talk about how you’re feeling as a friend/caregiver, especially  for advice to most effectively help your friend. Consider talking to a trusted individual in your life like a family member, counselor, teacher, faith leader, or friend.

 You can be the difference in helping a friend who needs support but is too afraid to seek help.  It could save his or her life!

Self-care Practices For All Areas of Your Life

Self-care Practices For All Areas of Your Life

Some weeks, you may feel on top the world… but others may feel never-ending. Life is full of factors that are out of your control, and that stress can actually affect your health. Stress can drain your energy, increase anxiety, cause headaches, weight gain, and lack of concentration.

Practicing self-care on a regular basis will help you to handle all of the challenges and uncertainties life can bring. Self-care simply means taking care of yourself in all areas of life: emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. There is no prescribed formula that works perfectly for everyone. Craft your self-practice to suit what works best for you, so you will enjoy it.

Below are the areas of life everyone should incorporate in their self-care practice:

        1. Physical Self-Care

This aspect of self-care is the most straight forward and focuses on making sure that your body is well-nourished and happy. When you are consciously caring for your body, you will think and feel better. The three basic aspects of physical self-care are good nutrition, proper recovery time (sleep and rest), and exercise. Begin with practices that are fun and rewarding to you.

Small steps such as eating more of the greens you love, drinking more water, and being active will make an impact on your well-being. (Remember to find the balance and rest when your body needs it too.)

       2. Mental Self-Care

Constant thoughts running around in your head can drain you. Mental self-care includes activities that declutter your mind and reduce your stress levels. These activities look different for everyone. Fuel your mind by learning about a subject that fascinates you, and reading books or watching movies that inspire you.

Some easy ways to relax each day include yoga, doing a craft, unplugging from technology, decluttering your home, or going for a walk.

     3. Social Self-Care

Life gets busy and it can feel impossible to make time to nurture relationships with friends or family. Social self-care is identifying your social needs and maintaining close connections in your life. There isn't a certain number of hours you should devote to your friends or work on your relationships. Everyone has slightly different social needs. Build enough time in your schedule to create an optimal social life for your well-being.

     4. Spiritual Self-Care

In this case, spiritual self-care doesn’t refer to religion or believing in a sort of higher being (although if that is what helps you - great!). Instead, in this sense, spiritual self-care is the act of getting in touch with your values—what really matters to you. This practice will help you cope with stress and foster a calm mind.  

Spiritual self-care activities include cleaning your spaces, joining a community that shares your values, meditating, going for a walk, or volunteering for causes you care about. It’s up to you to engage in whatever form of makes you feel best!

     5. Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care doesn’t mean that you never have negative or uncomfortable emotions, like anger, anxiety, and sadness. It’s the practice of identifying and accepting all of your feelings in a healthy way. Allow yourself to process what you are going through.

Include activities that help you acknowledge and express your feelings on a regular basis. For example, writing down how you are feeling can help you feel more fully present and not confined to those feelings from the past.

Identify the ways you can incorporate these practices to develop your personal self-care practice. If you take a few moments each day to care for your wellbeing, then you will be rewarded with a positive outlook and decreased stress.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month or SAAM for short. During this month, champions of domestic violence prevention across the United States raise awareness about sexual violence, how to prevent it, and how to support those who are affected by it.  Each year the National Sexual Violence Resource Center selects a campaign theme. This year’s campaign theme, I Ask, supports the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and a necessary part of everyday interactions.

 What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault includes any sexual behavior that is against the will of another person (often through manipulation, force or coercion). Types of sexual assault include rape, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, incest, and same-sex assault.

Did You Know?

  • Every 2 minutes someone in the USA is sexually assaulted. And every 9 minutes, that victim is a child.
  • Each year there are about 293,000 victims of sexual assault.
  • 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted while at college.
  • 42% of college women who are raped tell no one about the assault.
  • 1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday.

 What can I do?

Educating yourself and others, helping a friend who is being abused, speaking up, and being an engaged bystander are all examples of things you can do to help.

  • If a survivor shares their story with you, help them feel comfortable by being an active and supportive listener. It is important that they feel heard and believed.
  • Spread awareness through social media and educate those around you.
  • Learn more about laws and policies impacting survivors and prevention programming.
  • Participate in Denim Day - April 24th. Denim Day began after a 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans. In a statement by the Chief Judge, he argued, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.” Denim Day has grown into a national movement to raise awareness of rape and sexual assault.


Where can I go to get help?  

Always call the police in the event of an emergency. Domestic violence shelters, like HOPE’s Emergency Safe shelter,  accept rape and sexual assault victims who need a place to stay as space permits. HOPE Family Services also provides free group and individual counseling to those affected. Colleges and universities also offer resources and completely free counseling. Be sure to know where and how they work and what services they provide.

Another local agency, Centerstone, is a great resource and specifically works with sexual assault and trauma services. At the national level, RAINN and Take Back the Night are the two biggest organizations devoted to victim advocacy and sexual assault and rape prevention and care.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available by phone (800.656.HOPE) and online (online.rainn.org). Talk with someone who is trained to help anytime, 24/7.

Recap: 22nd Annual Black & White ... An Evening Over the Rainbow

On Saturday, March 16th, our 22nd annual fundraising gala event Black & White...An Evening Over the Rainbow was held at IMG Academy Golf Club.

The event’s theme spoke to its occurrence on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, and our fabulous planning committee created decorations that included a traditional St. Patrick’s theme with green shamrocks and pots of gold coins at the end of a rainbow. Every guest was greeted with a glass of champagne at the door and invited to mingle and meet the other guests while enjoying the h'orderves and cocktails. Throughout the night, guests participated in a fun photo booth, wine drawings, and raffles.

Once everyone was seated, HOPE Family Services’ CEO, Laurel Lynch, spoke and presented a video with an emotional, survivor’s story (see video here). After the video, the survivor, Amy, shared some thoughtful words about the help she received from HOPE Family Services. Stories like Amy’s helped to remind us about the impact of each donation and the importance of educating the community about domestic violence. During dinner, Laurel Lynch presented the featured raffle prize winners (Bucket of Booze winner - Terry Brennan and Lottery Pot O’ Gold winner - Shannon Schmidlin). The live auction was hosted by our wonderful grand auctioneer, Brad Laduciana. Items for auction included a week-long luxury getaway in Colorado, week-long sports camp at IMG, an ultimate local date-night including tickets to the Lion King at Van Wezel, and a limousine ride to dinner for 4 at Beach Bistro. The rest of the night included fantastic food and lots of dancing to DJ Keegs.

We were lucky enough to have 190 people attend our 22nd Annual Black & White. This event left us feeling incredibly thankful to have such a strong community supporting our mission.

Our Black & White Gala has been an important part of our annual fundraising efforts and this year was no different. Each contribution made, benefits those affected by domestic violence in Manatee County. We could not have asked for a better evening with better friends! Must be the luck of the Irish!

 

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We would like to give heartfelt appreciation to:



Presenting Sponsor: It Works! Gives Back Foundation

Event Sponsors: Fidelity Bank, GTL, Oneblood, Beach Bistro, and the Bradenton Herald

VIP Sponsors: Patti & Bob Wrobel, MaryEllen Wilson-Smith, Lawman Benefits Consulting, Inc., Blake Medical Center, Tim & Ashley Gruters, and Cross Country Wealth Management

Committee Chairs: Twila Averill & MaryEllen Wilson-Smith

Auctioneer: The amazing Brad Laudicina

Music: DJ Keegs, Charles Clapsaddle & the magnificent METV Team

Dedicated Board Members: Rosemarie Fisher, President; Mindy Hill, VP; Katie Williams, Secretary; Michelle Cross, CPA, Treasurer; Dr. Judy Smith, Immediate Past President; Ken Alicea, Twila Averill, Detective Yolanda Cox, Daniel Friedrich, Stacey McKnee, Christi Milan, Cheryl Roberts, Neil Unruh, MaryEllen Wilson-Smith, and Patti Wrobel.

We would also like to thank our wonderful volunteers and staff members who work every day to make the world a better place.

Our 22nd Annual Black & White was a huge success, and we are so grateful to everyone that contributed. Until next year!

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