Lens Of The People By Treyvon Waddy

Good Afternoon, readers! Lens of The People is a column dedicated to the capture of the real-life scenarios and events of the local Houston area whilst also giving the thoughts and opinions of the Houston community itself its own voice to speak through.

The relevance of mental health in America has reached a high point in several ways. Awareness for overall mental health issues such as depression and anxiety has reached an all-time high and for good reason. These issues can very well lead to suicide in serious cases, and according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. The reality of the matter is: Life is hard; especially in America. It’s easy for the essentials in life such as bills, work, and family to overtake you and leave you feeling depressed or anxious. Life moves quickly and time stops for no man or woman, and for those who aren’t particularly expressive by their nature it’s very hard to notice as an outsider, even if they happen to be friends or family how they’re feeling at all times. That being said, this week I asked a few suffering from mental illness and a few who aren’t what they think is an appropriate way to address or possibly help someone else suffering.

I personally suffer from my own mental illness and have friends whom I have lost to their own. I think the best way to reach out to anyone dealing with it is to always be available to talk to them about it. Be open and honest about your own issues and it can help people come to you about theirs. Being someone’s confidant when it comes to mental health can literally save a life.” – Janae Rixner

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I would try to help by approaching them in a calm manner and reassuring them first that they have someone who cares for them and secondly, try to get them to open up and talk to me about whatever it is that might bother them from time to time.” – Amber Gipson

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“If someone came to me telling me that they were experiencing depression or anxiety I would listen to them first and foremost. Most importantly I wouldn’t judge them and instead I’d let them know that it’s safe to talk to me about their feelings, whatever they may be. My own personal advice to others would be to try and take them to counseling and pray for them. There’s only so much a friend or family can do aside from supporting them wholeheartedly along the way.” – Eryn Hopgood

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Well first of all I have both depression and anxiety and I’m taking medication for both. I can speak from experience that, especially in the black community, it takes a lot to know when it’s time for therapy. You have to sit down and have a real talk with your family without thinking about you or they think they know about mental health and just get your feelings out there. It’s also very helpful to have a good support system for yourself in the form of people, because I know that the two people I call first when I’m about to have my anxiety attacks are my best friend and my mom. As for someone who doesn’t suffer who just wants to help, the most important thing of all is to just be there for that person.” – Maiya Turner

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“I would probably try and reach out and get them to open up. I’d probably do this only twice so whoever I’m talking to doesn’t feel like I’m being overbearing or pushy. As for friends and family, of course I’d try to give them more effort, but at the end of the day no one’s going to take help that they don’t want and perhaps they need something I can’t provide for them.” – Alissa Deason

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The things to do with someone who is suffering is to first reach out with love and support, because from the perspective of the person suffering, just knowing someone is there is of great help. You should also always be both open and reliable towards that person. Share your emotions with that person while validating theirs and reassuring them that their emotion and lives are valuable. It’s also important to encourage self-love which is one of the hardest things for a sufferer to do, but conveying to them that even with their flaws the most important step is for them to be comfortable in their own skin. It’s important that while doing these things, you’re not just reminding them about how their mental health issues affect the ones around them, or that by sharing your feelings with them that they’re obligated to share theirs with you. Sometimes their only goal is to vent and nothing more, and they don’t always need someone to guide them.” – Ethan Baker

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Photographer’s Thoughts

Mental health is certainly difficult to speak on as I believe everyone’s experiences as well as the severity of their illness differ from person to person. Depression for example, something I personally am familiar with, is a constant state for some, but others would describe it as a wave that just comes and goes. I believe that the overall best way to help someone deal with their problems, or even to help yourself as a sufferer, is patience. As an outsider looking in at someone dealing with their issues, patience will convey that you’re genuinely there for them no matter what, and as a sufferer it takes patience in order to overcome whatever it is you’re going through in whatever way you choose. Whether that be through therapy or venting, or through more internal solutions, it’s all a process as nothing good ever happens in just one day. Being thoroughly conscious of the situation, no matter what role you play, whether you have a mental illness or are just trying to help creates the vital first steps forward.

This was Lens of The People, a column dedicated to giving the Houston community a voice and a platform. Stay on the lookout for more, all made possible by The Forward Times!