Mental Health and substance use disorders impact thousands of people in Alabama, including many of our friends, neighbors and co-workers. Everyone reading this likely knows someone struggling with mental illness or addiction, and is well aware of the cost these issues can take on individuals and families throughout the state. The good news is that recovery is possible – but it’s critical to raise awareness about how these issues impact our communities and how to help people connect to appropriate support.
September is Recovery Month, a national observance dedicated to sharing the message that, with the right treatment and support, people can recover from mental health and substance use disorders to live healthy, self-directed lives as valuable members of their community. It’s also an opportunity for each of us to reach out and offer help and encouragement to someone who may be struggling. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge from a friend or loved one to help someone take that first step on their path to recovery. Here are some tips for starting the conversation:
• Show that you are concerned in a way that is not confrontational or judgmental. Let the person know that you care about them, and you want to check in because you’re concerned about recent changes in behavior that you’ve noticed.
• Keep questions simple. Ask how the person is doing, when they began experiencing these feelings, and how you can help provide support. At this point it may be beneficial to ask if the person has thought about seeking help.
• Avoid phrases that could sound dismissive or accusatory. Although you may not understand what the person is feeling, it is important to only express your unwavering support.
• Offer reassurance and hope. Let the person know that they are not alone, and that you are there to support them in actively seeking treatment to help them feel better. Offer to help them research local treatment and support resources.
For more information about helping those you care about obtain treatment and support for a mental health or substance use condition call us now at 334-262-7477. Remember that mental illness and addiction affect people from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or income level. The Council on Substance Abuse-NCADD is dedicated to providing the resources to help people make a successful recovery.