Mental health is not my area of expertise or the focus of my day-to-day work. But mental health is so important to talk about as it pertains to a holistic view of health when dealing with the mind, body, and soul.
| In Recent News |
With the recent passing of Kate Spade, my heart pained for her husband and 13-year-old daughter left behind. Many knew Kate Spade for her colorful brand and vibrant personality. The brand’s slogan: “Live Colorfully”. To have such a beautiful life taken at the hands of depression weighs heavy on my heart. Then with the passing of Anthony Bourdain just days after Kate Spade I had to stop and think; why is mental health not the topic of conversation more often? Why is there a stigma assoicated with talking about mental health and depresion.
We read about Kylie Jenner’s lips, watch the Royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry eagerly with a glass of champagne in hand, and talk about the latest gossip from our personal lives. However, when was the last time you asked someone you love how they are doing?
Would you know how to respond if they said they weren’t doing well? What if they said they were depressed? Or how about if they told you that they felt like harming themselves?
| How to Respond |
The first step in suicide prevention is asking the very important questions of “do you feel like harming yourself” and “do you have a plan of harming yourself?” Listening to their response is key. Often, repeating what you’ve heard back to the person you’re speaking with helps them understand that you are truly listening and care.
If they say they have thoughts of suicide, don’t feel like they need to be here, feel that the world would be better off without them or anything similar to those phrases, further action is crutial. Stay with this person until you can either call the national suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-8255) and connect them with a hotline specialist or get them to a safe place where they can’t harm themselves. A hospital is the best option for psychiatric evalutaion and ensuring that no harm can occur.
If you cannot stay with this person, one strategy to remember is to have that person make you a promise that they will not harm themselves until you can return to them. This interest in how they are doing and requiring that they make a commitment to you will keep them from harming themselves for the specified time frame. Ultimately psychiatric help is the goal for someone who has ideas of or plans to harm themselves.
| There’s Help |
Now, there is a United States suicide hotline accessed completely through text messaging. You or someone you love can text HELP to 741741. Sometimes we don’t want to “talk” about our feelings or are afraid to speak outloud about how we are feeling. This resource is phenomenal for anyone who feels more comfortable with text than talking on the phone.
| The Science Behind Depression |
Let’s briefly talk about the science behind depression. Depression stems from a chemical imbalance in the brain, specifically neurotransmitters, that are out of balance. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers of the brain that aid in communication between nerve cells. There may be too many of one type of neurotransmitter or not enough of another type of neurotransmitter. In other words, depression is not a choice but rather the brain chemistry off kilter. Severe depression left untreated leads to serious consequences. Suicide claims nearly 45,000 deaths in the US alone. Addressing depression, suicide, and other mental illnesses can drastically reduce this number. But we must start the conversation.
Let’s end the stigma surrounding mental health. Let’s start the dialogue on depression and suicide because not talking about it is far more dangerous than speaking up. If you would like support from a free community of women who encourage one another, join the Holistic Tonic Babes facebook group. Our arms are open.