I hate talking about feelings, but the more organizations that I see talking about mental health, the more comfortable I become.

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Mattapoisett YMCA shared “six ways to help a friend with depression or anxiety” as a gentle reminder that no one has to suffer alone and that it’s “okay to not be okay.”

I choose to come across as confident on a daily basis, but the truth is, I suffer with anxiety. It gets in the way of my self-confidence and self-acceptance, but I would rather push it way, way down into the depths of my soul, than talk about it to anyone else.

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Why? Because I don’t like to look weak. But with therapy and having open discussions with friends and family, I’m learning that anxiety is not a sign of weakness, but an obstacle I must face head-on.

My friends often don’t know how to help me when I sink into a dark place, and I find myself helpless when coming to the aid of others that are clearly hurting. These tips provided by the Mattapoisett YMCA are a great start on how to comfort someone who deals with depression and/or anxiety.

1.Learn about what your friend is going through

2. Be open and welcoming, and listen

3. Take their feelings seriously

4. Help them to find support

5. Continue supporting them and respond to emergencies

6. Celebrate their successes

I wanted to personally thank the Mattapoisett YMCA for giving validation to mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and the more conversations that we have as a community, the more comfortable people will be with opening up and healing.

One of the biggest things I can suggest to anyone who has a person in their life that is struggling is to listen. Do not listen to respond. Simply listen and let your friend or family member release their pain for a brief moment. The more you listen, the more they will open up to you, and the quicker they can get back to happiness.

It makes me so happy to see organizations opening the conversation about mental health. Let’s have the conversation last more than just the month of May.

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