Every May, families, friends, and communities join together to bring attention to mental health by showing their support during Mental Health Awareness Month.
If you and your family are facing a serious crisis such as a suicide attempt, this is likely one of the most difficult things you will ever face. If you have the right tools, you will be prepared to assist your family and find long-term solutions that are appropriate for each of you. With the right approach, and the right support, there is recovery and hope. USAGov and Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention share six areas where you can make a positive difference during chaotic, stressful events, for you and your family.
- Hotline for help: There are several options in case you or someone you know needs help to deal with an immediate crisis. Call 911 if you think a family member may harm themselves or others. Also, there is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Take care of yourself first: When there's a family emergency it may feel like you need to focus all your energy and care outward. But if you take care of your own needs first, you'll help ensure that you have the energy and tenacity you need to assist those depending on you. For military families, there are free applications to help address their unique environment.
- Find out more about your child's specific needs: Even very young children can understand simple concepts such as sadness (e.g., "Your Grandpa has been feeling very sad lately."). As a child grows he or she will be able to understand more about emotions, challenges, and problems that could lead to suicidal thoughts or behaviors. The goal for all ages is to provide honest, reassuring information, based upon the child's age and comprehension level. Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention offers advice on how to speak to your children.
- Keep an eye out for continued or prolonged signs of distress, and seek help if needed: MentalHealth.gov gives guidelines on what to do if your child shows signs of distress. Each state has federally-funded free or low-cost mental health services, which can be found using the SAMSHA locator or by calling their helpline 1-800-662-4357.
- Look for ways to teach resiliency: Related to the above concepts on mental illness is the idea of resilience - regaining strength and health (and perhaps growing even stronger) following a bad event. As a parent you can learn the skills and conditions that help bring about resilience, and also ways to teach your child how to be resilient at different ages.
- Moving forward with your loved ones: When your family member returns home, it's helpful to keep exploring new connections and sources for support as you move forward as a family. In addition to professional assistance, there are other sources of support that could help connect you with others who share similar experiences.
Along with the special activities during Mental Health Awareness Month by organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Health and Mental Health America, there is support available throughout the year during times of crisis. The government is filled with programs and services that can help you and your family face an emotional crisis. Find special support for Native Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), and veterans.
Let USAGov be your guide at USA.gov/explore.
If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.