As mental health conditions have become less stigmatized, more people are feeling comfortable coming forward about their experiences and sharing their struggles with their loved ones. This process is something that benefits everyone, as talking about mental health issues can help make them more manageable and allow your loved ones and community to support you.
At the same time, loved ones and friends may not know how to respond or offer support in a safe way, and may feel unsure or overwhelmed when the topic comes up. Fortunately, there are trainings and resources available to help you learn how to support yourself and the people you care about who are having a hard time.
Be There Certification
One such resource was developed by Jack.org and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. The Be There Certificate is a free self-paced course that can be completed in less than 2 hours. Its purpose is to teach you how to support your peers in a real and safe way. The Be There Certificate includes six modules that will help you identify when someone might be struggling, how to talk to them about it, and refer them to community resources. The full modules can be found below.
The six modules of Be There:
- How to recognize signs of struggle
- What to say to start the conversation
- How to build trust and offer practical support
- Tips to become a better listener
- The importance of setting healthy boundaries
- How to help someone access professional and community resources
It should be noted that this is not a replacement for professional therapeutic help, a crisis intervention certification, or peer support certification. Instead, it’s a way to learn how to be a more active listener and help connect your friend to the resources that they deserve while still maintaining healthy boundaries. Individuals who have participated in this training reported that it helped them connect more deeply with their loved ones who are struggling, and that they felt more prepared to navigate that conversation and refer them to resources.
Benefits of Peer Counseling
At the Youth and Family Institute in Los Angeles, we know how important it can be for people to receive quality therapy as well as support from their loved ones or peers as they recover. Our Clinical Director and Founder, Dr. Marcus Rodriguez also runs the Global Mental Health Lab at Pitzer college, and has researched the benefits of peer counseling in the past. The Global Mental Health Lab is currently working to partner with the Friendship Bench Program in Zimbabwe to have lab members trained to provide appropriate peer support. In the future he hopes to have lab members work on the Friendship Bench Program’s text line to provide peer support to other university students globally.
Importance of Seeking Professional Help
When someone is having a difficult time, it’s important to help them find resources and seek professional help, such as therapy or mental health lines. If one of your loved ones is struggling, we recommend referring them to resources such as our Free Resource List or helping them to contact a therapist. We currently have openings at our clinic for parent coaching and individual therapy and you can start our Intake Process here.
People who are struggling also need trusted people that they can talk to about what they are feeling, and many people go to their friends or families when they are struggling. Knowing how to best support them in that moment will help both parties feel more comfortable and safe in that conversation. At the Youth and Family Institute we also provide parent coaching to help you know how to navigate those conversations with your children.
“The Be There Certificate Trains Young People in Safely Supporting Mental Health” – Published for Teen Vogue by Brittney McNamara on March 14, 2022. Read Article