Listen up

Once again, last week, Bell Let’s Talk Day brought focus to the importance of mental health awareness.

Often in this column, I have written about how the little things, small gestures, truly make a difference. When it comes to helping someone with their mental health, just taking some time to listen to them can truly
help.

The whole point for setting up support phone lines is giving a person a space to feel safe, talking to someone else about their life and their feelings. The success of services like Kids Health Phone proves that listening is very important.

Sometimes people just need to know that their concerns or feelings about something are being heard, and people understand what they are going through. By just paying attention and listening to someone, you are both showing a person they are important to you because you value what they have to say, and allowing them to get off their chest what they need to
say.

By listening, without judging, you also prove they can feel safe telling you what’s on their mind, letting them know they are not alone. If we want people to feel safe coming forward about their mental health problems, the first step is proving there will be no negative consequences for telling us how they feel. To do that, all you have to do is pay attention to the person, and validate their feelings by listening to them without judgment.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from when I started college to being a reporter today, it’s how much you can learn from someone if you give them a chance to talk to you. I try to treat every week as a learning experience, a chance to learn from others such things as how to improve at my job or as a person, new ways to look at life, how to learn from someone else’s situation by doing something differently or just interesting facts about anything.

We have two ears, listening is the least we can do to help someone out.