Mental Illness Tips: How to Be An Effective Supporter

Yesterday I spoke with a friend of mine that was having a rough time with personal relationships and finances. She suffers from mental disorders as well, which as many of you know can play into the phenomenon known as suicidal ideation.

Well, I had to do a great deal to make sure she was calmed as a result of someone on a suicide hotline gas lighting her experiences and emotions. She was told that she was working herself up over nothing, that she has options that she’s choosing to ignore, that it’s all in her head and she needs to just get over it, etc. Basically things that no professional working for a suicide prevention hotline should ever say.

And so as a person who has loved ones go through tough times, and as a person who deals with mental illness, I wanted to make a post to raise awareness about what to say and what not to say to someone who is suffering from mental illness of any kind and reaches out for help, especially if they are having thoughts of suicide.

What NOT to say:
(1)–“I know you are going through something, but it doesn’t help the situation if you always dwell on it. You need to just be happy.”
(2)–“Things are not as bad as you are making them out to be.”
(3)–“I think you are remembering things wrong” (often said to people with PTSD, believe it or not).
(4)–“I don’t believe you are actually suffering from XYZ. You look fine to me.”
(5)–“You just need to get over it. You’re bumming everyone out.”
(6)–“The best way to get over XYZ is to just grow up and face your fears.”
(7)–“Stop crying. You’re just making it worse.”
(8)–“I think you’re just taking everything too personal.”
(9)–Don’t just start rattling off all of this advice on how they can make all of their problems go away and get happy quickly. Many mental illnesses are lifelong ailments that need professional treatment. Statements like “just get a different job”, “just cut everybody off”, and “just move on” don’t help at all.
(10)–“You just need to go see a doctor” (understand that a lot of people do not have health insurance, and so many resources that they need are not available to them).

What to say/do:
(1)–When they need to talk, shut up and listen to them. Don’t invalidate their statements. Don’t tell them to buck up and get over it. Don’t start talking about yourself and your problems. People call help lines because they typically need to vent and need someone to hear them out.
(2)–Educate yourself on what it means to actively listen to people when they need someone to talk to.
(3)–Don’t, in any way by any means, start calling them crazy for what they are feeling and going through. Validate their emotions.
(4)–Be there for them when they need someone. You don’t have to give them a bunch of physical resources, but just be a person they can trust when they need an ear or to lead them to professionals who can help them if you are unable to. Usually hotlines are helpful. If one doesn’t work, try to find a different one that will.
(5)–If someone in your life has a mental illness, be actively supportive by educating yourself on what it means to have that illness and what those people go through on a daily basis. Many forums have tips for supporters on what they can do to help their loved ones.
(6)–Follow up with them periodically to see how they are feeling. It’s nice to know people care about what someone is going through.

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Below is a list of questions we believe users will have about our page and our mission.

What is the overall purpose of this page?

We’ve created this page to raise awareness of the misogyny that exists online as well as in politics, economics, and the global public arena. We aim to educate folks on feminist ideology, intersectionality, and the history of the women’s rights movement. A good deal of our time will also be focused on raising awareness about the burgeoning threat to women’s rights: the reactionary Men’s Rights Movement (and other movements similar to the MRM).

Why feminism?

Anyone who has any grasp on the historical development of modern civilization will know that women only recently gained the right to vote, the right to own property, the right to run for public office, and even the right to work in the same career fields as their male counterparts. Prior to these advances in the fight for women’s liberation, however, women were strictly limited in their abilities to lead free lives without being completely controlled in every aspect imaginable by “societal norms”. Unfortunately, millions of women world wide still have their lives controlled. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 85% of sex trafficking  60% of labor trafficking victims are women (http://www.polarisproject.org/resources/hotline-statistics/human-trafficking-trends-in-the-united-states).

Not only that, the recent appalling events with rape cases from India to Steubenville and even in many of the Egyptian demonstrations have brought to light the existence of a phenomenon called “rape culture”, whereby which charges against rapists are either acquitted or are never brought to trial. Not only that, politicians within many states in the USA have made it clear that they intend to trivialize the experiences rape victims suffer so that they can advance their anti-abortion political agenda.

The acceptance of rape and oppression of women is so normalized that many multimillion dollar companies (Snickers, Dolce & Gabbana, Fiat, Carl’s Jr., Burger King, etc) utilize ads that demean women for the sake of profit. Society focuses on profiting off of the misery women face by fabricating “anti-rape” products instead of putting rapists on trial and challenging the culture that breeds rapists.

Another symptom of rape culture is the normalization of domestic violence, which is illustrated with the lax treatment athletes, such as NFL player Ray Rice or the fighter known as “War Machine”, receive after evidence has proven them guilty of DV. The response the women victimized by these acts of violence are often shamed, dehumanized, and blamed for the actions of their spouses in the aftermath.

Feminism is a grass roots, intersectional women’s liberation movement that aims to dismantle rape culture, the oppressive patriarchal system that created rape culture, and gain equality for women in the political, economic, social, and cultural spheres of civilization.

Is Feminism anti-men?

Absolutely not. This is a time old stereotype perpetuated by those who are threatened by the idea of complete equality of men, women, and all genders inbetween. The movement simply aims to bring women up to the same level that the male gender has stood at for centuries, and historically many men (such as Frederick Douglass) have proven to be great allies to the cause of gender equality. Feminists welcome male solidarity to the cause.

There have been many feminist pages that have acknowledged that men, too, suffer from oppressions specific to their gender. This page is one of them. When we strive to put an end to rape culture, we advocate the rights of every victim of every gender (which includes men and trans*). We believe that no one should be forced to undergo circumcision. We believe that the unreasonable “macho” roles men are forced to conform to severely damage the male psyche.

So if you’re not anti-men, why are you against the Men’s Rights Movement?

The term “Men’s Rights Movement” is a gross misnomer. From what I have been exposed to on pages such as “A Voice for Men”, “Anti-Feminism”, “Honey Badgers Radio”, MGTOW, etc., there’s not much to say about the things men are adversely affected by. Most time spent by Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) is on bashing, slut shaming, and harassing women and feminists. This is demonstrated by use of screenshots and direct quotes/links from prominent MRAs such as Paul Elam & Tom Martin.

The MRM is saturated in homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism and-yes- even anti-Semitism. It seems to be a movement geared primarily toward cis, white, straight, property-owning men. We don’t believe the MRM stands for the rights and equality of all men, women, and other genders. They uphold the rigid, gender binary as well as the cookie-cutter gender roles that come right along with it. It is a reactionary movement that only serves to disassemble the progress women have gained through years of struggle.

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We understand that this stunts the ability to have a fruitful dialogue about women’s issues in some cases, but we would rather not have MRAs take over our threads with their vitriol.