Categories
Children's Mental Health

8 Ways To Raise Kids To Be Allies

Being an ally of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community is not just about knowing LGBTQ+-related vocabulary by heart or lobbying for trans-inclusive bathrooms. Even young children can be considered allies when they treat all people — regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex charactertistics (SOGIESC) —  with compassion, acceptance, and respect. 

“Raising kids to be kind and accepting benefits not just the recipients of those kind acts but also the children themselves,” says Dr. Kathryn Braganza, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician practicing in Manila and mother of two children aged 18 and 6. “Being kind will make them feel good about themselves, ease their anxieties, make them happier, and boost their self-esteem.” 

While it is easier to teach children to be allies when a relative is queer, even families without homosexual, bisexual, or transgender loved ones can raise children to be open and loving. Dr. Braganza, who also has a gay older brother living in the United States,  shares some tips from her personal experience on how parents can create a culture of kindness and inclusivity at home:

“When my husband makes inappropriate jokes, for example, I call him out in front of the kids in a nice way. In other instances when it’s okay to do so, I politely share science-backed data to counter other people’s stereotypes and misconceptions.”

Kathryn Braganza, Neurodevelopmental pediatrician
  1. Embrace diversity. From a young age, expose your children to people, shows, music, or literature that positively represent a variety of SOGIESC. “In the building where I live, we have a transgender neighbor who dotes on my six-year-old daughter, hugging and kissing her all the time,” relates Dr. Braganza. “And because my husband and I did not make an issue out of it, my daughter thinks of her as just a loving neighbor and not ‘that transgender neighbor.’” 

Many television shows now also have diverse casts and roles, so Dr. Braganza suggests that parents co-watch with children to better explain to them what they are watching. 

Finally, let your sons wear pink, your daughters wear blue, and let them play with whatever toys they want. “In developmental pediatrics, we encourage parents to let kids engage in pretend-play, such as playing with dolls, to boost socio-emotional skills,” Dr. Braganza says. “Some parents have told me they are hesitant to let their sons play with dolls because they worry it would make him more feminine, but I just explain to them that research has shown that toys do not determine or influence gender identity.”

  1. Emphasize WE, not ME. Encourage your child to look for what they have in common with others instead of how they are different. Any time your child points out how someone is unlike them, Dr. Braganza suggests that you say, “There are lots of ways people are different from each other. Now let’s try to think of ways you are the same.” 
  1. Encourage open and accepting minds. “You can model this in everything you do, even in situations that are not related to gender,” says Dr. Braganza. “When your kids see you treating everyone the same regardless of their social status or their appearance, they will also do it on their own.”
  2.  Openly speak with pride and love about family members, friends, and colleagues who are LGBTQ+ (as long as they are out and are comfortable with you discussing them with others).  “My brother came out to me and my parents just before I got married and we supported him whole-heartedly,” Dr. Braganza recounts. “So when my children were growing up, his sexual orientation was never an issue because they saw that their grandparents and I did not treat him any differently than other people. Before the pandemic, we would all even frequently visit him and his husband in the US and my children treated their relationship as something normal.” 
  1. Be mindful of hurtful or derogatory comments or behavior. Children are always watching, so they will notice kindness, respect, and when you speak up on behalf of someone receiving unfair treatment. “Of course, choose your battles,” Dr. Braganza clarifies. “When my husband makes inappropriate jokes, for example, I call him out in front of the kids in a nice way. In other instances when it’s okay to do so, I politely share science-backed data to counter other people’s stereotypes and misconceptions. But when the hurtful remarks come from an elederly relative, for example, I just say quiet to show respect, but once we are at home I explain to the kids that what they heard was not right.” 

“I also frequently tell my children that everyone is raised differently, so if other people give a different point of view, just be polite but at the same time they should be firm in their belief that they know what is right,” she adds. 

  1. Answer children’s questions simply and honestly. How you respond can either create stereotypes or prevent them from forming. For very young kids, usually a one- or two-sentence answer is enough. Dr. Braganza gives some examples:
  • “Mommy, he’s a man but why is he wearing makeup/dressing like a woman?” 

Answer: “That’s what he likes to do, it looks nice anyway, right?”

  • “Daddy, he is a boy, how can he be a girl?” (when referring to transgenders)

Answer: “He likes to be one, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

  • “Why does she look like that/talk that way?” (when referring to someone with a different gender expression)

Answer: “That’s how she likes to look or talk, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

In any situation, always tell your child that everyone has the right to choose how they want to express themselves,” she says. 

  1. Ask yourself one critical question every day: “If my child had only my behavior to copy, would they be witnessing an example of what I want them to emulate?” “So always model kindness and optimism,” explains Dr. Braganza. In doing so, your children will learn to be allies and treat everyone with compassion and kindness. 
  1. Update yourself on the latest facts about the LGBTQ+ community. There are many myths and misconceptions about sexual orientation and gender identity, so it is important that we educate ourselves to avoid inadvertently  projecting obsolete ideas onto our children and tainting their views. “Update yourself with what science tells us about SOGIESC,” she suggests. “The internet has a wide array of information to get you started.” 

MindNation also gives talks on SOGIESC in partnership with Balur Kanlungan, an online wellness community for LGBTQI youth in the Philippines; just email us at [email protected] to set a schedule. 

If you need help on improving your communication skills or forming a closer relationship with your child, our psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Rest assured that all conversations will be kept secure and confidential. Book a slot now through FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected].

Categories
Featured

7 Important Things Every Dad Should Teach His Kids

Fathers, like mothers, are pillars in the development of a child’s emotional well-being. Studies have shown that when fathers are involved, affectionate, and supportive, it positively impacts a child’s overall sense of well-being and self confidence. 

We asked Filipino journalist and father-of-three TJ Manotoc to share some things that  he wants his children — and every child — to grow up knowing so that they become healthy and happy individuals:

“My kids always ask me what my definition of success is, and I tell them it’s not how much money I earn or what kind of car I’m able to buy — it’s to raise them to become happy and healthy human beings.”

TJ Manotoc, Journalist and father of three
  1. For his sons, to always respect women. “There’s so much misogyny and disrespect for women nowadays that I want my sons to know that such behavior is not cool or funny and can really be hurtful,” he shares. “I always tell them that before they say or do anything to another girl or woman, they should first think about their own sister and mother, and how they would feel if they were the recipient of such disrespectful words or actions.”
  2. To know how to cook, clean, and do the laundry. “If you enter the adult world knowing how to do household chores, you will have a much easier time being loved,” TJ laughs. “And if you really can’t do chores or have the time — at least be neat and clean when you are living with someone else!”
  3. For his daughter, to be brave. “I believe it’s especially important to encourage girls to speak up for what they believe in, to use their platform for good and not just for aesthetics,” he says.
  4. And to learn self-defense! “The world is a scary place, and she should be able to protect herself and not wait for a man to come to her rescue,” he points out.
  5. For all his children, regardless of gender — that it’s okay to feel your emotions. “This is a bigger issue for sons because their feelings are stifled a lot. We should do away with toxic statements like ‘Be a big boy’ or ‘Be a man’ and allow our little boys to be human beings,” he opines. “If something bothers them, hurts them, or physically pains them, they should know that it’s okay to cry.
  6. Financial literacy. This includes how to take care of money, how to budget, what to buy and when to buy them, or how to invest. “I wish these were things my parents taught me back then and I hope that more parents teach it now, because finances are really something that a lot of people struggle with when they get into adulthood,” he says.
  7. To go ahead and dream. “Don’t stifle your child’s dreams by saying ‘No, you have to be a doctor,’ or ‘No, you have to do this, not that,’”
    TJ expresses. “Doing this puts a boundary on their dreams and tells them that they cannot be who they were destined to be. So allow them to spread their wings and expose them to as many things as possible so that they can discover their meaning in the universe.”

He adds: “My kids always ask me what my definition of success is, and I tell them it’s not how much money I earn or what kind of car I’m able to buy — it’s to raise them to become happy and healthy human beings.”

For TJ, the best way fathers can cultivate healthy and loving relationships with their children is to create opportunities where they can bond and spend time together in a very natural and relaxed manner. “One thing I struggle with is when I see families sitting down at the dinner table and the kids are “supposed” to bond with the parents, they are “expected” to share what went on during their way even if they are tired or in a bad mood. Instead of forcing the kids, parents need to find ways to pique their child’s interest and open them up to conversation,” he suggests. “Everyone has different moods — when they feel chatty or when they just want to be alone — so my advice to parents is to give their kids the space and time they need to be themselves. Trust and respect are essential to a positive parent-child relationship.”

Want to build a healthier relationship with your child? Our WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions to help you improve your communications skills and become a more empathetic parent. Book a session now through FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected]

Categories
How To

How To Handle Toxic Family Members

While arguments and disagreements between family members are normal, it’s important to distinguish between normal fights and toxic behavior.

“A relationship is toxic when it is not harmonious, when negative moments outweigh the positive ones,” explains Aiza Tabayoyong, a family and relationship expert from the Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them. 

The fights do not even have to be direct or explosive confrontations to be considered toxic. “The hurting can come in many forms,” points out Aiza. “It can be verbal abuse in the form of sarcasm, some subtle teasing, or giving the other person the silent treatment. 

It can even be passive-aggressive behaviors — like leaving the soap dish full of water knowing you’re the next one to use the soap, or finishing up all the food when they know it’s your favorite. At first glance, these behaviors are simply annoying.  But If  they occur constantly and the person does not change their ways even if you ask them to, they become hurtful and disrespectful, which leads to repressed anger, and becoming toxic.”   

Toxic relationships are bad not only for the relationship but also for the mental, emotional, and physical health of the people involved. “In a toxic relationship, your body and brain are constantly in a fight or flight mode because of so much stress,” explains Aiza. 

“In the long-term, this negative energy will literally become toxic in your system, and can also lead to different mental health challenges like depression or anger management issues. It can also lower our immune system because when we are not in a good place, our body’s antibodies do not fight as hard,” she adds. 

“The fights do not even have to be direct or explosive confrontations to be considered toxic. The hurting can come in many forms. It can be verbal abuse in the form of sarcasm, some subtle teasing, or giving the other person the silent treatment.” 

 Aiza Tabayoyong, family and relationship expert from the Love Institute

How to move forward

Repairing a toxic relationship takes time, patience, and diligence. This is because most toxic relationships often occur as a result of longstanding and unresolved issues in the current relationship, or as a result of unaddressed issues from prior relationships. 

If you truly want the situation with your family member to change for the better, there are some things you can do to turn things around:
 

  1. Stay away from the source of the toxicity as much as you can. This can be hard to do these days when you are isolated at home with the other person and cannot literally go away, so it would help if you have a room of your own where you can take a breath. If not, Aiza recommends putting up some form of psycho-emotional shield, such as meditating, listening to music, praying, and also reminding yourself that you are distinct and different from the other person. 

“It’s important to cut the emotional connections especially if the other person knows your buttons,” she advises. “Instead of thinking ‘ There’s something going on with my loved one and it’s affecting me,’ shift the mindset to ‘There’s something going on with my loved one, I need to move away from striking distance so I will not be affected.’”

  1. Regroup and recollect. Sometimes, the difference is in the pause. As Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl famously said “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Once you’ve had your space and are in a better place, know your options. According to Aiza, there are three:

Option A: Are you going to accept the person’s behavior and just choose to live with it? The downside is you will need to set very firm boundaries to cope with the toxic behaviors, and the boundaries may become so rigid that you will be permanently disconnected from the other person.

Option B: Will you give hints and hope that the other person will get that you are affected by his or her particular behavior? In this case, be prepared for the possibility that they will never get it.

Option C: Ask for a dialogue with the other person, and do it in a non-confrontational and non-judgemental way. “Approach the other person with a sense of compassion, because he or she might be going through something that you are not aware of,” instructs Aiza. “Then use ‘I’ statements to convey how you feel, such as ‘I feel __ when you do __.’ This way, you are letting them know the effect of their behavior — not their personality or their character — on you. They won’t feel attacked, and the chances of them being defensive or angry will be minimized.” 

On the other hand, lashing out with “You’re so inconsiderate!” or “You always/never think of others,” is exhibiting judgement and will make the other person want to prove you wrong. He or she will lash back with, “That’s not true, I am very considerate, do you know how much I do for this family, etc. etc.”

  1. Talk to a professional. “Talking to a psychologist can provide you with a sounding board to process your feelings or help you view things from another perspective,” says Aiza.  
Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

Dealing with toxic family members who are older than you

It’s easier to have difficult conversations with peers — like siblings or your partner —  than with older members of the family like parents or the parents in-law.  What should be done if they are the ones exhibiting toxic behavior? 

  1. At the very least, try to make the relationship civil. If the relationship has been sour for so long already, you cannot expect the other person to be as empathetic or compassionate to your pleas. “ Bring the relationship first to neutral ground by knowing the other person’s love language, something that will build favor and allow you to reconnect,” shares Aiza. “In time, you will build a bit of leverage as far as influence is concerned and you will not be dismissed right away. “
  2. Present your case in a way that it’s beneficial for both parties. “Start by saying ‘I know it has been difficult for both of us; I’m sorry if I knowingly or unknowingly offended you or hurt you. I want to improve things around the house or our relationship, may I talk about it when you are available?’” suggests Aiza. “If they are ready, they will say yes. If they are not ready and say no, at least you tried.”
  3. In the case of in-laws, ask for help from your partner/their child. “Capitalize on your parents-in-law’s love for their son or daughter, they cannot reject him or her,” points out Aiza. “Ask your partner to mediate and make things better, or bring you up in a better light.”

How to reduce being toxic towards others

Because we are human, it’s highly possible that we are treating family members unpleasantly without even realizing it. How can we become less toxic people ourselves?

  1. Get feedback. “Dare to ask trusted people whom you know will not hurt you for feedback. For parents, if you have a good enough sense of your self-worth, ask your kids ‘How is mommy doing? Is there anything you would like me to do so I can be a better mom?’” suggests Aiza. 
  1. If there is no one to ask, just be observant of yourself. “What is your own level of stress that you may be bringing into your relationships. How happy are you with your life? How contented are you?” Aiza asks. 

If you prefer a  scientific approach, MindNation has an online WellBeing Quiz that you can take for free to check on your mental status and happiness level. If you score Healthy or Thriving, then you are in good shape and no one is affected by you; but if you are Fading or Burned Out and you realize that there are people you rub the wrong way or people who trigger you, you might want to step back and see where that’s coming from. 

“Is it because you’re tired? Or maybe you have some unresolved issues that need to be resolved?” asks Aiza. “Whatever it is, you might want to work on those now, because a lot of our past issues manifest either in relationships or at work.”

  1. Make time for self-care. “This is very, very important, especially if there are other people counting on you for care and love,” Aiza stresses. “Self-care is whatever it looks like for you, whether it’s doing breathwork, meditating, walking under the sun (just make sure to stay safe), bingeing a little bit of tv, or talking to your friends and finding a reason to really belly laugh. Finally, get as many hugs as you can from people who are safe. Virginia Satir, a famous family therapist, is famous for saying  ‘We need 4 hugs a day for survival; 8 hugs a day for maintenance; 12 hugs a day for growth.” 

For Aiza, the lockdowns happening because of the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique opportunity for the family to work on their issues and become stronger. “Think of it as a forced team building exercise,” Aiza says. “Now is the perfect time to look at any problems that you may have, take a pause, and deliberately work on them. Don’t sweep things under the rug and presume that everything will go away once the pandemic is over. Find ways to thrive inside the home so that when the doors finally open, we can go back to our normal lives carrying that love, and know that our relationship survived the lockdown stronger than ever.”

For those living in the Philippines, MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions if you need help addressing relationship issues, past traumas, or to work on yourself. Book a slot now through FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected].

Categories
Children's Mental Health

10 Ways To Cultivate Positive Teen Body Image

Body image is defined as how and what you think and feel about your body. It includes the picture of your body that you have in your mind, which might or might not match your body’s actual shape and size.

“A person has a positive or healthy body image if they feel happy and satisfied with their body, and are comfortable with and accepting of the way they look,” says Danah Gutierrez, a body positivity advocate and host of the podcast “Raw and Real.mp3” together with her twin sister Stacy. “They accept that everyone is diverse, and that the body is not an ornament to be looked at.”

On the other hand, a person with a negative unhealthy body image feels unhappy with the way they look. “People who feel like this often want to change their body size or shape,” Danah adds.

A person’s body image is influenced by many factors. These include family environment, the attitudes of peers, social media, cultural background, and more.

Puberty is also a big influence. This is a time when a child’s body goes through lots of changes; at the same time, teens encounter the pressures of fitting in and finding a sense of belonging. “In my high school, conversations about who are the best-looking in our batch were common; students would be ranked based on who was the prettiest, and I was told many times that if I lost weight, my rank would go higher,” Danah relates.

This is why if you are a parent to teens or work with teens, it is important to know that you have an influence on your child’s body image. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting your child to be well-groomed or present themselves well; these are good values,” Danah points out. “But how much do you value appearances, and is it perceived in a healthy way? Because there can be situations when teens will not process it the right way.”

An unhealthy teenage body image is directly related to low self-esteem, which are risk factors for the development of risky weight loss strategies, eating disorders, and mental health disorders like depression. “It might also lead teens to look for detrimental ways to feel desired, to feel a sense of belongingness, or to be valued, such as turning to peers or the media,” cautions Danah.

On the other hand, teens who feel good about their body grow up more likely to have good self-esteem and mental health as well as a balanced attitude to eating and physical activity.

“When teens feel good about themselves and who they are, when they carry themselves with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness — that makes them beautiful!”

Danah Gutierrez, body positivity advocate

Here are the things you can do to help your teen develop a positive body image:

  1. Explain that weight gain is normal during puberty. During this time, children feel “out of control” with the changes they are experiencing in their body. It can help tremendously to know about and understand these changes before they occur. Girls who are experiencing their first menstrual cycle, especially, should realize that growth and weight spurts are necessary and normal for their development.

  2. ‘Instagram vs. reality.’ Tell your teen to be more discerning of what they see on social media or tv. Help assuage their insecurities by explaining how the images are often digitally manipulated so that people look more ‘beautiful’ than they really are.

  3. Focus on inner beauty. “Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of body,” says Danah. “When teens feel good about themselves and who they are, when they carry themselves with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness — that makes them beautiful.”

  4. Discuss self-image. “Have an honest and vulnerable discussion with your teen about weaknesses and flaws (theirs and yours), share your own struggles and what healthy ways you took to be better,” Danah explains.

  5. Help establish healthy eating and exercise habits. If your child wants to eat differently or do more exercise, that’s OK – but make sure it’s for healthy reasons, and the dieting and exercise don’t become extreme. “Let your child know that healthy eating and physical activity aren’t just for weight loss – they’re vital for physical health, now and in the future,” points out Danah.

  6. Praise achievements. “Don’t have to limit compliments to appearance, i.e. you’re so fair-skinned, you’re so skinny,” says Danah. “Tell your child that you’re proud of them for things that aren’t related to appearance, such as ‘I love how you’re so eager to learn about life’ or ‘You’re so mature for your age’ or ‘I really enjoy your company.’” 

Also focus on what their body can do, rather than how their body looks. For example, you can say, ‘Wow, you hit that ball a long way’, rather than ‘Gosh, you’ve got big arm muscles’.

  1. Set a good example. If you show that you feel positive about your own body, it’ll be easier for your child to be positive about their body. Talk about eating healthy, not dieting; talk about exercising to be stronger, not to lose weight; and do let your child see you eating a variety of food, vegetables, and lean meats, not only diet foods or fat-free foods.

  2. Discourage family and friends from using hurtful nicknames and joking about people who are overweight. Teasing can have a negative influence on body image and can also lead to bullying. It’s important to let everyone in your family know that teasing about weight or appearance is not okay. “I would call out the commenter by saying right away ‘What did you say? I don’t think that’s funny,’” Danah says. “Then I would have a private conversation with that person and tell them I would appreciate it if they did do that in front of my kid, that’s not going to help my child in any way, and I think my child is beautiful just the way they are.”

  3. Connect them with body positive role models. There are things teens cannot share with their parents, and that is normal. “So make sure there are other older people in your circle who are trustworthy, have good character, are grounded, and who carry themselves with confidence,” says Danah. “This way when your child needs to seek advice, they don’t just rely on their peers who  are just as confused and clueless as they are.”

  4. Actively listen and communicate with your child. Respect that they have insecurities. “Don’t just tell them ‘What you are feeling is wrong,’ take the time to listen and figure them out,” suggests Danah. “Assure them that their looks are not the only thing about them, that they have so much more to offer. Make them understand that their body is an instrument, not just an ornament; it’s an instrument to experience good things and bad things, to enjoy life. And tell them that they can be beautiful in so many other ways than just through their appearances.”

As a parent, teacher, or close adult relative, you are the most influential role model in your children’s life. If your teen seems to have anxiety or stress about how he or she looks, start by talking with them about your concerns. And if things don’t change and you’re still worried, consider reaching out to a health professional. MindNation’s psychologists are available 24/7 for online consultations with you or your child. Book  a session now through http://m/me/themindnation or email [email protected] . Rest assured that all conversations will be kept secure and confidential.

Categories
Relationships

Strategies To Strengthen Your Relationships During The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our lives in many ways,  including our interactions (and lack thereof) with the people close to us.

At home, the combination of financial stress, anxieties, the pressures of working from home, and restrictions in leisure outings are causing most of us to become irritable and short-tempered with our partner and our kids.

We’re missing our social groups — the co-workers, school friends, and yoga/running/spinning/hiking buddies — whom we usually turn to if we need to destress and decompress. 

Lastly, many of us have also started neglecting ourselves. After all, it’s hard to squeeze in self-care when there are just so many social, financial, psychological, and physical stressors surrounding the pandemic.

But it is precisely because of all these challenges that we need to take better care of the relationships we have with our loved ones and with ourselves. “Having healthy relationships can provide us with meaning and a sense of hope and support during difficult times like now,” says Aiza Tabayoyong, a family and relationship coach at The Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them. “The lockdown is actually giving us a unique opportunity to identify the things and people that are most important to us, so let’s use the time to get to know them better and enjoy them.”

    Below are some ways we can strengthen and support our relationships:

1. With our spouse or partner

  • Schedule weekly date nights. If you are at home, find a corner in the house where you and your partner can be secluded and have a romantic moment together, whether it’s just binge-watching your favorite Netflix show or having a nice meal. And whether your dates are at home or done virtually, make sure you use the time to have fun, focus on each other, and build each other up. “Do not use this time to write down a list of what errands to do, what repairs need to be done, or discuss problems in the relationship,” instructs Aiza. “Have a separate day to talk about home management concerns or relationship issues.”
  • Frequently tell the other person how much you love and appreciate them, whether it’s verbally, through text messages (even if your home workstations are just a few feet away from each other), or by leaving little notes in their drawers.
  • Know your partner’s love language to make it easier and more efficient to meet their needs.

2. With your children (if any)

Just like with your partner, schedule one-on-one time with your child. Make the conversations light and fun. “This is the time to listen to them and be curious about their interests. Don’t use this time for scolding them or pushing them in the direction that you want,” Aiza reminds. “The stress of remote learning has unavoidably turned your parent-child relationship into a teacher-child interaction, so you need to balance this shift by letting your child see that you are still fun to be around. When that happens, your connection becomes stronger and you have more leverage to better influence them.”

3. With your friends

“Once a week or when your schedule permits, schedule a get-together with people who can lift you up during these tough times, either through virtual platforms or at restaurants that provide al fresco dining options,” advises Aiza. Maintaining ties with friends is crucial because they provide you a safe space to decompress from the stresses of home. It also assures you that you are not the only ones with problems, so make sure each person is given an equal opportunity to vent his or her concerns. 

4. With yourself

This is the most important relationship of all. “Nourishing yourself is actually prerequisite to nurturing all your other connections,” says Aiza. “Make time for self-care, and remember that it is not selfish. Adopt the mindset that ‘I need this, I deserve this, and doing this will benefit everyone else.’” 

  • Remember to get enough sleep and to eat well. 
  • Ask your partner or eldest child to give you massages or haircuts
  • Schedule regular quiet time. “Use it to do deep breathing exercises, to meditate, or for prayer time to connect and communicate with your god,” suggests Aiza.

Self-care also goes beyond meeting one’s physical needs for rest. It involves looking beyond the bad days we experience and viewing ourselves in a kinder light. So remember to: 

  • Reframe negative self-talk. “Always remind yourself that you are valuable as you are, and that you deserve the same kind of love you give others,” says Aiza.
  • Practice self-compassion. “Instead of being your harshest critic and saying things like ‘I’m so stupid,’ or ‘I can’t do this,’ replace these statements with ‘Oh well, that’s not my strength, I’ll just find someone to help me,’” advises Aiza.
  • Celebrate your achievements. “If you don’t hear enough affirmation from other people (probably because they are going through something themselves), you have to give it to yourself,” Aiza suggests. “Look in the mirror and tell yourself ‘I am amazing, I am capable, I am loved.’”  

Maintaining relationships may seem time-consuming, but the key to success is to make sure you plan properly. “Having a calendar will help you properly schedule and balance your must-do’s for home and work and your dates with the people most important in your life, including yourself,” advises Aiza. 

If you are feeling isolated, overwhelmed, or need advice on how to manage your relationships better, feel free to reach out to MindNation’s Care Hotline on FB Messenger. The FREE service is available 24/7, 365 days a year,  and rest assured that all conversations will be kept completely confidential. 

Categories
Children's Mental Health

10 Ways To Talk To Teens If They Don’t Want To Talk To You

Whether we like it or not, teenagers are complicated creatures. From being sweet, wholesome, and talkative kids who cannot wait to tell you stories about their day, they can become moody, temperamental, and impulsive adolescents who prefer to stay glued to their phones and answer your questions with grunts and eye-rolls.

Don’t worry, it’s really part of growing up. “There is a science behind this change in behavior during the teenage years,” assures Dr. Margaret Mae Maano, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist. “During adolescence, teenagers experience changes in their bodies and brains and these changes don’t take place at the same time. The first part of the brain to develop would be the limbic system, or the part that deals with emotions, which will explain why teens can become moody. The last to develop would be the prefrontal cortex, which is the decision-making part of the brain, and explains why teens are more prone to engage in high-risk behaviors.” According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States, this brain remodelling will continue until the teen turns 25, so it’s important that adults around them be a steady and constant presence to protect them from the negative impacts of their impulses. 

In addition, the combination of a developing brain and experiencing so many physical, emotional, and social changes may make teens ill-equipped to handle stress and cause them to develop mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, teens could always turn to their friends for mental health support,” says Dr. Maano. “But now that schooling is online, this support system is no longer as accessible. It’s up to the adults in the house to become their source of strength and support.”

Just because your teens seem withdrawn and reticent does not mean that they will not appreciate your efforts to maintain a close relationship; you just have to approach them the right way. Below are some ways you can connect with your teenagers and get them to open up (even if they seem like they don’t want to):

1. Make family meal times sacred. Aim to have the family complete during one meal time each day and institute a no-gadget rule at the dining table. This creates a safe space where family members can share how their day went or talk about whatever is on their minds. “When family mealtimes are the norm, this will ingrain in our teens’ minds that their parents will always make time to listen to them,” says Dr. Maano. 

2. Ask open-ended questions. This allows teens the opportunity to open up on their own terms and the freedom to talk about what they are comfortable to share.   

3. Keep the conversations stress-free and casual. Limit the lectures. “The key is to actually listen to what your teen says,” points out Dr. Maano.

4. Tone down the criticisms, turn up the praise.  “Sometimes, that positive statement from you may be the only good thing they have heard in a long time,” Dr. Maano says.

5. Don’t demand compliance; opt for negotiation. “Because teens are at a stage when they are trying to develop independence from their parents, they may not respond positively if we force them to do something,” opines Dr, Maano. “Instead of imposing your will, help them come up with a better way to handle their issues. Teens may not want you to solve their problems for them, but some guidance would be great.” 

6. Ask them about their opinions about what is going on in the world. This is a good way to understand what is going on in their minds. “It also makes them feel respected and valued,” points out Dr. Maano. 

7. Be clear with your family rules, such as non-school related screen time, smoking, swearing, etc. Everyone in the household should be in agreement with the rules and even adults should be bound by them; if some parts of the rules are contentious, negotiate during family meal times. 

8. Pick your battles. Don’t fight with your kids over every infraction committed. “Teens feel omnipotent, that diseases and dangers do not apply to them. They also tend to be experimental, so for example, they may try to smoke or drink alcohol out of curiosity but then stop on their own,” explains Dr. Maano. As a parent, the most you can do is guide them in making their own decisions. And if you do catch your teen disobeying your rules, such as skipping class, smoking, or drinking, address the issue calmly. Don’t lecture them because they will only shut you out. Find out why they started doing it, then negotiate on getting them to stop. If there are consequences, help them face up to it; and if they stop, commend them for making a good decision. 

9. Allow them some liberties but give them additional responsibilities at home as well.  Giving them responsibilities also means that you are trusting them as a young adult and boosts their confidence. 

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you find yourself facing an issue beyond your control or expertise, ask help from your child’s school counselors, your pediatrician or adolescent medicine specialist, or from mental health professionals. Dr. Maano gives some examples:

  • If you catch your teen doing drugs, this will require professional intervention. 
  • If you and/or your teen are uncomfortable talking about sex or reproductive health, find another trusted adult whom he or she can talk to, like their pediatrician. “But as early and as often as possible, I encourage parents to teach children about respect for the body, that private parts should remain private. If your daughter feels she is not ready to have sex with her boyfriend, tell her it is ok to refuse and say no.  And if your son has a girlfriend and she says no, he should respect that as well.”
  • Finally, self-harm and suicidal ideation should be treated as a cry of help from the teen. “Consult a mental health expert right away,” Dr. Maano advises. “If your child is reluctant to see a mental health expert, he or she might be more comfortable talking to their school’s guidance counselor first. The counsellor will be the one to recommend further evaluation.”

There are no hard and fast rules for parenting. “The good news is the majority of teenagers go through adolescence without any problems,” assures Dr. Maano. “Just be a constant presence in their lives, talking to them, listening without judgement, and keeping an open mind. Step back and allow them to discover things on their own. When your teen knows that you are just there, ready to listen, he or she will open up to you when they are ready.”

If you or your teen needs someone to talk to, MindNation’s Care Hotline is available on FB Messenger. The FREE service is available 24/7, all year round, and is completely confidential. Drop them a line here http://m.me/themindnation.

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Children's Mental Health Featured

4 Ways To Prevent Student Burnout

With many schools transitioning into remote or online learning because of the pandemic, the toll of the virus, isolation, increased workload, and other associated effects are rising among many students. According to a May 2020 survey by Best Colleges, an online college planning resource, 81% of high school and college students surveyed said they somewhat or strongly agreed that they were experiencing increased stress due to the learning disruptions stemming from COVID-19.

If you or your child need someone to talk to, MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. To book a session, visit https://bit.ly/mn-chat or email [email protected].

“There are many disadvantages to online schooling, chiefly the lack of physical connection with other humans — no more hallway chats, high-fives, pats on the back, or hugs from friends and teachers,” says Dr. Natasha Esteban-Ipac, a pediatrician and adolescent-medicine specialist. “Students also need to contend with virtual learning fatigue because it takes extra effort to interpret the non-verbal cues of the person on the other side of the monitor. Lastly, let’s not forget that there are physical ill-effects of spending too much time online — eye strain, headache, and fatigue can affect their general well-being.”

“If left unresolved, these can affect a child’s ability and capacity to succeed at home, in school, in relationships, and in work later on.”

Dr. Natasha Esteban-Ipac, a pediatrician and adolescent-medicine specialist

All of the above can lead to the development of mental health issues in children such as anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, and other mood disorders, sleep disorders, and even addiction to technology. “If left unresolved, these can affect a child’s ability and capacity to succeed at home, in school, in relationships, and in work later on,” says Dr. Esteban-Ipac.

What can parents and educators do to protect a student’s mental health? According to Dr. Estebal-Ipac, “All we need is L.O.V.E.”

  • L – Label and validate emotions. 

“We need to help children express their emotions in healthy ways so they do not bottle up their feelings,” she says. This includes teaching them calming techniques such as deep breathing exercises, pausing to count from 1 to 10, or writing in a journal or diary. “When a child knows what to do when they are faced with certain emotions, they feel a sense of control and are comforted,” she adds

  • O – Offer to listen and respond.

Empathize and talk with your children when they are feeling tired, stressed, or scared. “Believe in the power of touch—hug or cuddle your children. Do not be afraid to be firm, though, if they do something wrong or anything that will compromise their safety,” reminds Dr. Ipac-Esteban. 

  • V – Value routine, rules, and schedules.

Having a structure at home is very helpful especially during stressful situations like this pandemic. When children have some form of control over the things that will happen throughout the day, they will feel more safe and secure. “Have a routine for waking up, preparing for school, mealtimes, activities such as playing or reading, and bedtime,” she says. 

Things not to miss out in these routines, rules, and schedules include:

  • Regular times for meals and exercise
  • Limiting non-school related screen time 
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Always learning. “Part of learning is also teaching the children about life skills, or how they can be functional adults. So involve them in doing household chores, preparing meals, cleaning parts of the house, or doing the laundry,” Dr. Esteban-Ipac advises. 
  • E – Embrace mistakes, chaos and imperfections: both your children’s and yours.
    Negotiating and resolving conflicts is an important skill children should learn because it develops resilience, and they learn it best with adults around them, be it parents or teachers. Some things we can do:
    • Try to solve problems together. If it is really overwhelming for them, help them break down the task/problem into smaller tasks so they can solve it one step at a time. 
    • Help them organize their time and give them the opportunity to decide how they will tackle their tasks (be it school work or chores).
    • Reframe their mistakes as learning opportunities and involve them in planning ways to improve their work. Reassure them that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that you do not love them any less. 

All these strategies will really require time and patience, so if you are a parent or teacher, don’t forget to practice self-care. “‘Mental health begins with M.E,’” says Dr. Esteban-Ipac. “A stressed parent will lead to a stressed child, and in the same way a happy and healthy parent will result in a happy and healthy child.”

“A stressed parent will lead to a stressed child, and in the same way a happy and healthy parent will result in a happy and healthy child.”

If you feel your child is really troubled with online learning, talk to them and help them identify their reasons for being stressed or sad. But if it is really overwhelming, even for you, do not be afraid to seek professional help if needed.



Categories
Mental Health 101

5 Ways To Help Teens Find Their Passion And Purpose In Life

New year, new goals — how are your teenagers doing in this area? Perhaps it’s time to nudge them into thinking about what they want to do with their lives, i.e. finding their purpose. Do they want to be professional athletes? Social media influencers? Or do they simply want to raise a good family? Or spend their lives volunteering? Whatever the scale, it is important for people to have a life purpose because studies have shown that it will make their lives meaningful and — by extension– happier.

There is no rule that says teenagers need to find their life’s calling at this age. Some do, but others find it only upon reaching young adulthood. “The adolescent stage is all about exploring and experimenting with one’s identity and eventually reaching a commitment to that identity,” points out  Dr. Cara Fernandez, the Executive Director of the Ateneo Bulatao Center (www.ateneobulataocenter.com). 

But while we should not expect young people to identify their passion right away, adolescence is the perfect time to help them examine their options and guide their choices. below  are some ways:

  1. Open a dialogue. How do you know what your child is interested in? What does he or she want to do with their lives? Some questions that you can ask to get your young adult reflecting on purpose:

— What’s most important to you in your life?

— Why do you care about those things?

— Do you have any long-term goals?

— Why are these goals important to you?

— What does it mean to have a good life?

— What does it mean to be a good person?

— If you were looking back on your life, how would you want to be remembered? 

“During such conversations, [parents are reminded to be] good listeners as well as good interviewers, probing children to elaborate on their views, frequently asking the ‘Why’ question, and encouraging them to think more deeply about the things they find noteworthy and interesting,” writes Prof. William Damon of Stanford University in his book ‘The Path To Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling In Life.’ “[W]e become better able to hear their first murmurs of purpose; and in this way we provide the nurturing conditions for further exploration.”

  1. Let them explore. Because teens do not yet have the experience to know what excites them, it is the job of the adults around them (parents, extended family, and educators) to create opportunities for them to be exposed to new things. “Introduce them to different areas — the arts, music, reading, writing, religion, politics, sports, etc,” advises Dr. Fernandez. Let them talk to relatives or friends whose careers they find interesting. “If they show an interest in something, deepen it with positive reinforcement and encourage them to look further into it,” she adds. 
  1. Mind your biases. “If your teen says he or she likes to do X or Y, but you want them to consider Z because you think it’s better, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Dr. Fernandez says. “But be aware of your tone and the kind of encouragement you give. Be upfront and tell them that ‘I am biased for Z but it’s up to you, tell me if you think I am pushing.” This assures your child that he or she is free to tell you if they are feeling pressured into doing something that they do not like.  
  1. Be encouraging but offer realistic expectations. What if your teen’s passions are headed towards a path that you have reservations about? For example, “I want to teach underprivileged children” is a noble purpose in life but not a financially secure one. In this case, Dr. Fernandez advises parents to counter not with rejection but with information. “Explain to your child that certain life paths will result in certain lifestyles,” she suggests. “If they want to devote their lives to teaching, show them data about how much money a teacher makes, what the job will entail, and what lifestyle they will most likely follow. Then show them how different the situation is if they follow another life path. The purpose of doing this is not to discourage them, but to make sure that they go into the situation with their eyes open.” And if your child insists on his or her first choice, then accept it (as long as the goal is not criminal or destructive). “Ultimately, I know that parents value their child’s happiness,” Dr. Fernandez says. “If you tell them that this is going to be their life, and they are okay with that, then just be supportive.”

The purpose of [setting realistic expectations] is not to discourage them, but to make sure that they go into the situation with their eyes open.

Dr. Cara Fernandez PhD
  1. Convey your own sense of purpose and the meaning you derive from your work. “Parents should share their own goals and sense of purpose with children,” writes Prof. Damon. Discuss as a family how what you are doing is meaningful to you, whether it be as a company manager or as a homemaker. You can share that what you are doing helps others, contributes to society, is your means of self-expression and personal growth, or even because it provides jobs to others. “It is motivating and inspiring for children to hear why their parents find their daily efforts significant,” he adds.

Despite the above efforts, there is always the possibility that your child might end up not having any passions at all. Dr. Fernandez assures that this is also okay. “There are people who are not really strongly inclined towards anything,” she points out. “They are the ones who graduate from college and apply for work anywhere and everywhere, and wherever they land is okay. These are people who are simply accepting of life, who are spontaneous, and open to different opportunities — and that’s fine. We need people like them in society too.” 

Ultimately, our teen’s life choices are theirs to make. As parents and educators, all we can do is cultivate a nurturing and supportive environment that will allow our children to choose the better options. It’s more important that we inspire rather than demoralize them, so that we provide them with a lifelong sense of wellbeing that will translate into confidence, security, and happiness. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Featured Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help

8 Ways To Raise Grateful Kids

Help kids develop an attitude of gratitude so that they will grow up to be happier, more positive, and more content with their lives.

As 2020 comes to an end, it’s time to start thinking about our goals and intentions for 2021 — not just for ourselves but also for our family. One resolution in particular that we would like to suggest — teach kids to be more grateful and less entitled. 

“Children become entitled when they always get what they ask for, when parents say ‘yes’ more than they say ‘no,’” says Maribel Dionisio, a parenting and relationship expert, author, and founder of the Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them. “When children are raised with everything handed to them, they grow up to become demanding, high-maintenance adults who are not equipped to handle life when things don’t go their way,” she adds.  

On the other hand, when children learn to be appreciative, responsible, and not take things for granted, they have better relationships with other people, can empathize more, are easier to please, and become generally happier in their later years. 

Below are some ways you can reinforce the importance of gratitude:

  1. Be mindful of your words and actions. You may be feeling proud that you are not entitling your children because you do not buy them every toy that they ask for; but an entitlement mentality can be shaped in other ways, some of which you may not even be aware of, such as: 
    • Attributing other people’s actions to their character and not because of outside forces. When your kids complain that someone took the last cookie without asking, don’t immediately say “Yes, he’s a bad boy, don’t be like him.” This teaches children to be judgemental and quickly blame others for their misfortunes.

      A better way to manage such situations would be to ask your children to think about what the other person may be going through or how they might be feeling, i.e. “Maybe he took the cookie because he didn’t get to eat lunch and is really hungry.” This act of empathizing makes kids stop immediately seeing others as bad, and makes them more grateful for their circumstances (i.e. at least they are not THAT hungry).
    • Overprotecting and overpraising them. The first will make them dependent on you, the second will make them feel that they can do no wrong. 
    • Jumping through hoops to make sure their path to success is paved for them, so they never have to work hard to get what they want. 

2. Set a good example. Kids learn a lot from watching their parents. So model gratitude every chance you get, such as offering a sincere “Thank you” to the person who delivers your packages or making it a point to share little things that you are grateful for during casual conversations. 

3. Be encouraging and positive. “When you catch your children doing good or beyond what is expected, praise them for it; don’t always focus on the things they did not do,” says Maribel. For example, if your toddler packed away four out of his seven toys, don’t scold him for not doing a perfect job; instead, tell him thank you for doing that, then remind or offer to help him pack the remaining items away. This reinforces the positive behavior and lets them know that what they do (no matter how small) is appreciated. 

4. Put things in perspective. Talk to your kids about those who are less fortunate, like the owner of their favorite restaurant who had to close shop because of the pandemic, or the people who lost their homes because of natural disasters. Understanding that not everyone has the same advantages will help them develop compassion for others and gratitude for their own privileges.

5. Let them do chores. Part of feeling gratitude is being aware of the effort someone else went through to give us something. One way to let your child experience this effort is to involve them in household tasks, such as making the bed, folding the laundry, or helping prepare meals.  “Chores reduce entitlement because it helps children see the value of work,” Maribel points out. “In addition, children learn to be responsible, feel more confident, discover their strengths, and see the value in their work.” 

6. Show them how to find the money. It can be hard for children to understand why they can’t just buy everything they want if they have never paid for anything. “Give your children opportunities to manage money, whether it’s giving them an allowance, helping them start their own business, or even paying them for doing extra chores,” says Mariblel. “When they see the time and effort it takes to be able to buy a new item of clothing or new gadget, they won’t feel entitled about money.”

7. Establish boundaries. “Do not let your children get away with everything,” Maribel instructs. “Have rules, and explain the importance of these rules so that your children cooperate. And if they deviate from rules, counter with logical and natural consequences, not with screaming, shouting, or spanking because these will only make them resent you.”

8. Cultivate a good relationship with your child. All of the above tips require you to be able to talk to your children openly, honestly, and without judgement. To achieve this, Maribel suggests the following ways:

  • Set aside one-on-one time for each child, at least 20 minutes a day. Make the conversation light and easy-going so that he or she opens up to you about what’s on their minds, and you in turn can share stories that impart the values of empathy, gratitude, and kindness. 
  • Set aside one-on-one time for each child, at least 20 minutes a day. Make the conversation light and easy-going so that he or she opens up to you about what’s on their minds, and you in turn can share stories that impart the values of empathy, gratitude, and kindness. 
  • Set aside one-on-one time for each child, at least 20 minutes a day. Make the conversation light and easy-going so that he or she opens up to you about what’s on their minds, and you in turn can share stories that impart the values of empathy, gratitude, and kindness. 

The only way children will learn gratitude (along with other positive values) is by having a relationship with them that is open, honest, and managed by boundaries. “When we do away with limitations and give our children everything they want because we want their lives to be easy, it is OUR lives that become complicated,” says Maribel. “On the other hand, when children feel loved, respected, and secure, they will not misbehave or feel entitled. They will want to return those loving feelings to you, absorb the values you impart,  and do everything to make you happy.”

If your children are struggling with strong emotions or if you need advice on how to manage their wellbeing and happiness, feel free to drop us a line on our FB Messenger chat helpline. We are open 24/7 and the service is free, secure, and confidential. 

For more information about the Love Institute, visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/theloveinstituteph/

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Employee Wellness Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Work in the New Normal

Do’s And Don’ts For Supporting A Colleague With a Mental Health Concern

There are many ways to help someone going through a tough time, just make sure you do it properly

What should you do if you think that a team meamber is exhibiting signs of a mental health concern? What if you want to help but can’t find the right words to say? How can we be more present to those in need?

 The good news is more often than not, you don’t even need to say anything. “What’s more important is you respond sensitively to their needs and show that you care,” says Riyan Portuguez,  RPsy RPm (also known as Your Millennial Psychologist). “Your mere presence already has a powerful effect,” she assures.

Below are some ways:

Do:

  1. Dedicate enough time. If you want to get to the bottom of their issues, staying behind for an extra 30-minutes after an online meeting will not cut it. “An honest-to-goodness conversation will take hours, so be sure you won’t be distracted by other matters,” points out Riyan. 
  1. Let them lead the discussion. Allow them to share as much or as little as they want to. Don’t pressure them to tell you anything that they are not ready to talk about. Talking takes a lot of trust and courage; you might even be the first person they have been able to talk to about this issue. 
  1. Validate their feelings. “Listen actively and empathize as much as you can,” advises Riyan. Remember, you don’t have to agree with someone’s feelings or choices to acknowledge that their emotions are valid.
  1. Offer to accompany them to a mental health professional to prevent further harm. They may be hesitant to take this next step because of the stigma associated with seeking professional treatment for mental health concerns, but assure them that it is a good way for them to receive proper care. Another option you can suggest is MindNation’s 24/7 chat helpline on FB Messenger. Assure your friend that the service is free, completely confidential, and that the staff are trained to ease their anxieties. 
  1. Know your limitations. “Make sure YOU are mentally and emotionally prepared to offer help,” Riyan reminds. Self-care is critical when you are supporting someone who is in crisis. When someone unburdens themselves to you, you might end up absorbing all the strong emotions, so make sure you set boundaries and take steps to protect yourself by doing activities before and after the conversation that leave you feeling rested, relaxed, and recharged. And if you feel you have reached your limit, don’t feel bad about stepping back, but do it properly.

Don’t

  1. Diagnose. Do not make assumptions about what is wrong with the person. “When you initiate the conversation, avoid blurting inappropriate things like ‘I notice that you seem down lately, are you depressed?’” Riyan instructs. “A better way to phrase it would be ‘You seem down lately, are you okay?’ or ‘Is there anything I can do?’” 
  1. Start with “How are you?” Riyan says this is because it would be easy for the person to just say “I’m fine” even though he or she is really not. She suggests that if you want the other person to open up, a better way would be to phrase the question in such a way that it compels the responder to do an action, such as “Hey, are you free later? Let’s talk.” 
  1. Break their trust. Do not gossip about your friend’s problems to other people; neither should you report his or her mental health concerns to their boss even if your intentions are good (i.e. you want to alert them that their team member has mental health struggles). “This will cause your friend to resent you, when what you want is to maintain his or her trust in you,” Riyan points out. If you really feel that you need to get others involved, ask for permission first, i.e. “Is it okay to open this up to your team leader?” Then follow up with “I think it would be nice to mention what you told me to them, so that they can also help you.” Lastly, offer to accompany the person when he or she has that conversation as a form of moral support. 
  1. Invalidate their feelings. According to Riyan some of the things you should not say to someone struggling with a mental health concern include: 
  • “It’s all in your head” 
  • “Things could get worse” 
  • “Have you tried chamomile tea/lavender lotion/praying/going out more/etc” 
  • “Shake it off.” 
  1. Ghost, ignore, or avoid them. If you become too overwhelmed to engage with them, don’t just disappear without a world. Step back, but do so respectfully and thoughtfully. Be honest about your reasons for stepping back, and do not blame the person (in the same way that you would not blame a cancer patient for the stress that results from their struggles). Set a date on when you will next touch base with him or her so that they feel assured that you still care for them and that the timeout is only temporary. Lastly, reach out to other members of your friend’s support network and make sure they can commit to helping out if there is an emergency. 

The best thing you can do for someone struggling with a mental health concern is to instill hope. “Saying ‘We will get through this together’ assures the person that he or she is not alone,” says Riyan.

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation