If you knew your friend was struggling, would you know how to help?
To help students understand how to recognize and respond to mental health challenges, Charlotte Johnston of Jack.org was the guest speaker at Crescent’s Upper School assembly on January 31, 2019.
Jack.org is a Canadian charity that trains and empowers young people to understand how to take care of their mental health and to look out for each other.
Johnston told the students that each year, one in five Canadians struggles with their mental health, and described how she fell into this category when she was a student. She explained that from a young age she often felt anxious and worried about things that didn’t seem to bother other people. She didn’t have the vocabulary to articulate what was wrong, and her mental state began to limit her ability to do the things she loved. In university, she was finally able to talk to a counsellor about her struggle and get the help she needed to improve her mental health.
Mental health exists on a spectrum, ranging from healthy to stress to struggle to crisis, explained Johnston. It’s important to recognize and get help when someone is struggling – when their mental distress is intense, long-lasting and has a big impact on their life. If a struggle becomes a crisis, there is a risk that the person will harm themselves.
Johnston suggested ways that students can help someone who is struggling:
Say what you see – address how the person is behaving, rather than what you think they are feeling
Show you care
Hear them out – ask questions and listen
Check yourself – don’t judge
Connect them to help
Students don’t need to help someone struggling with mental health on their own. Johnston suggested some places where students could get help: