Sometimes someone just needs someone to listen to them talk about what’s going on in his or her life. You don’t always need to fix that person’s problem; often, they can figure out a solution on their own if they just have someone to bounce their thoughts and ideas off of.
Recognize that it’s not easy for people to open up about what’s going on in their lives. In particular, men and gay/bi/queer/trans/2-spirit (GBTQ2S) folks have often been told to hide their emotions and just be fabulous. It’s great to thank someone when they are able to break through all of that and finally share about themselves.
Thoughts are just thoughts. They’re not always right, and they don’t always determine what’s going to happen. Our assumptions can also be inaccurate. Sometimes it can help if someone asks,
“Where did that thought or assumption come from? What evidence supports it?
“What evidence contradicts it?”
“What’s an alternative way of thinking?”
When powerful thoughts and emotions take hold of someone, it can be difficult for that person to see things clearly. They might not be able to recall the good times they have had in life, remember their hopes for the future, or recognize all of the different options available to them.
Sometimes it can helpful for them to hear someone ask a clarifying question like:
“Is it your life that you want to end or do you just want today to end?”
Try to empathize and feel what the other person is feeling. If you’re also GBTQ2S, you’ve probably had similar experiences; try to remember what those experiences were like to be kind and understanding of the other person. But don’t forget to be compassionate to yourself as well: recognize your limits.
Not everyone feels equipped to help other people respond to challenges related to mental health, and that is okay!
When in doubt:
Refer to professional support, like a crisis line or a social service organization.
You can find a list of crisis lines by clicking here!
It can be really difficult for someone to make changes in their life, whether it’s accessing professional support or changing their thoughts or behaviours. Taking small steps can be helpful, especially when someone is there to help make that first phone call or begin to imagine alternative ways of thinking and acting.
We have all internalized different forms of oppression, and this has negatively impacted how many of us interact we each other.
We need to unlearn these things and make a conscious effort to treat each other with the kindness and respect that we all deserve.