When we teach Mental Health First Aid, we talk about the importance of “checking in” with someone when we notice some changes in them and have concerns that they might be struggling or going through a difficult time. In the class, we spend time talking about different ways we can “check in” with someone, and how we often feel unsure of what to say and how to do it.
“Checking in” can look a lot of different ways. Sometimes it means having a really intentional conversation to let the person know that you’ve noticed some changes, you’re concerned about them and want to let them know you care. It’s about giving them a safe space to talk, when they are ready. Sometimes, if we are concerned for the person’s safety and well-being, “checking in” may involve helping to connect the person directly to a professional who can get them the help they need. And sometimes “checking in” means finding small ways to let the person know we are still there in their life, they are not alone, they have not been forgotten in the midst of the challenges of everyday life.
I think sometimes we underestimate the impact that simply letting someone know we are thinking about them can have on a person who is struggling with a mental health challenge or the stressors of daily life. Things like sending a simple text that says, “Hey, are you okay over there?” or “Been thinking about you. Hang in there today.” We can even add “no reply needed” so they hopefully won’t feel the added pressure of owing us an immediate response.
Even this simple approach to a “check in” could be what helps the person get through another day and may make them more willing to reach out to you when they need support.
If you notice someone in your life seems to be struggling and you are wondering if they are okay…”check in”. Find a way to let them know you care, you are there, you are someone they can trust, and then be ready to really listen if they want to talk.
Oh, and let’s not overlook that person in your life who always seems to have it together. They may be struggling, too.