Ever had one of those really awkwardly helpless moments when someone tells you about their mental health? What do you do when someone lays a mental mental health disclosure on you? How can you respond without making things worse?
That Time a Student Told Me She Wanted to Kill Herself
I’d only been teaching for a few years, and scarcely looked older than my high school students. I have a policy of giving my students my phone number on the first day of school, so if they had a huge question or a problem they could call me. Late one night a distraught junior girl called me and told me she was thinking about killing herself.
They don’t teach you in college what to do when this happens. I launched a prayer for wisdom heavenward and started asking questions. Did she have a plan? Were the supplies to carry it out at hand? Did she want help? The answer to all three questions was yes. Back in the days before cell phones and single land-lines per household, we didn’t have as many options for keeping her safe and getting her help.
We knew her parents, so I stayed on the line with her while Pedro drove to their house to alert them and offer to help find the help my student needed. The experience left me shaken and determined to learn more so I’d know what to do if it ever happened again.
But what about other kinds of mental health disclosures? What do you say when someone reveals they suffer from bipolar disorder? Or schizophrenia? Or OCD? How do you determine if their mental health disclosure is a plea for help, a truth-in-friendship revelation, or just the facts?
Today’s episode will walk you through what to do. How do I know? Twenty years later our daughter had a mental health crisis.
Check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a wonderful website with resources for those with a mental illness as well as family members.
If you suspect someone you know or love is contemplating suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Visit their website or call 1-800-273-8255.
Come Back Next Week
If we want to #stopthestigma surrounding mental illness, insurance companies need to get their act together. I’ll share a hypothetical scenario of what it would sound like if health insurance treated cancer the same way they treat mental illness.What to do if someone shares a mental health disclosure with you. #stopthestigma #mentalhealthmonth #NAMI Click To Tweet