MHA Question & Answer

Q1. Assume I comfort a friend. However, my conscience tells me that he/she is not having the right choice/mindset. How do I help while setting a boundary in my moral conscience of good and bad, right and wrong without hurting the person?

Helping and comforting a friend does not require you to change your moral stand. However, if you want the opportunity to share your moral perspective with your friend, you would need to first take perspective i.e. you need to provide your friend with a safespace to share his/her worldview without judgement AND you need to put yourself in his/her shoes to gain an understanding as to what contributed to your friend’s worldview. If you can do this to the extent that your friend feels safe sharing with you, then you are more likely to have the opportunity to share your perspective with your friend in time to come. Conveying your moral stand does not have to be the first thing you do in comforting a friend. Your friend needs “COMFORT” i.e. someone to listen and understand where they are coming from. They do not need a moral police at the time they need understanding. This is part and parcel of effective listening. When your friend is convinced that his/her point of view matters to you, he/she is more likely to hear your perspective.

Q2. What if you know of a friend facing mental health problem but he/she doesn’t want to admit? How do you approach the matter? How do you help?

Focus more on how your friend is doing. Focus less on getting them to admit they have a problem because most of the time, the person already knows but finds it hard to acknowledge that he/she needs help. Keep connecting with this friend and live life with this person and don’t make the goal of your conversation about mental health. Remember that your friend is more than just his/her struggle with mental health. When there is genuine connection and when your friend knows that your connection with him/her is not about “fixing him/her”, then you are more likely to convince this person that he/she needs to seek help.

Q3. I have a family member, who thinks that everyone that she may or may not met despise her, I don’t know how to help her.

First, ask your family member to tell you as much as possible what makes him/her conclude that someone is despising him/her. Then differentiate “perception” (i.e. what he/she thinks is happening) from “facts” (i.e. what actually took place – evidence). Help your family member “reappraise” i.e. come up with other possibilities that might explain the behaviours of people whom your family member perceives are despising him/her.