The importance of caring

It would be difficult to look back over news headlines in the last couple of months and not see information about recent suicides, including those of well-known celebrity figures. These recent losses, including the losses of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, have sparked further conversation about how best to help those struggling to manage mental health conditions.  Mental health interventions can be useful tools in helping those who are struggling to enter or maintain the necessary treatment that may help save their lives. Individuals who are struggling with their own mental health condition, whether it be depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, may work to be somewhat isolated or secretive as a result of their condition.  Depending on their symptoms, they may be experiencing delusions or mania that contribute to making them resistant to participating in treatment.  This may make it especially hard for their friends and loved ones to know how to help, which is why involving a mental health professional may be a useful next step.

Carolyn Reinach Wolf discusses in “Psychology Today” ways that different kinds of mental health professionals may be helpful, beyond participating in outpatient therapy, including:

  • Involving a psychiatrist who can prescribe necessary medication and help evaluate aspects of danger or harm that an individual may be experiencing towards themselves or others –
  • Utilizing a case manager to help them learn about and consider types of service options available and connect them with services as needed –
  • Discussing concerns with a mental health attorney to discuss the rights of the participant –
  • Considering safety and involving law enforcement if there are concerns about imminent or likely harm –

Having conversations with these and other applicable mental health professionals can help determine the best course of action for a person who is a risk to themselves or others. In some cases, like if someone began experiencing extreme distress after stopping a medication to help treat a serious mental illness, it may be necessary to involve law enforcement or the court system to help direct them for an immediate evaluation and follow-up treatment.  These professionals may be able to help with future planning as well, including discharge planning, supportive services or court-ordered therapies.  It is important for individuals who are in life-threatening or crisis situations to be able to prioritize themselves and the value of their own life.  If they are unable to do so, it then becomes important for their friends and loved ones to step in and help them take the next steps toward safety and treatment.

How Being Cared For Affects Us

Once the crisis situation is under control, recovery can begin, but it is not always easy for people to know what to do or how to help after someone has experienced a mental health crisis.  On a primitive and biological level, human beings need to be cared for and connected to other people. In thinking back through experiences in life, everyone can recall someone they cared for, or someone that cared for them, and the positive impact that that has on your mind and body.  Most people can also remember times when they were left out or did not feel cared for, like being excluded in school social situations, and the negative feelings associated with those experiences.  Feeling cared for helps us care for others, experience more positive emotions, better handle stress and encourages resilience.  Holding onto feelings of caring and sharing those with friends and loved ones who may be struggling will help support them as they work to manage their mental health and will help them connect with one of the fundamental benefits of being human.

For Help:  

If you or someone you know might be struggling, utilize EAP benefits to seek services from highly qualified, licensed professionals. If someone you know is experiencing difficulty, let them know they are not alone and you are willing to assist them with finding the help they need. Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone is powerful in helping others seek the help they need.

If you or someone you know needs immediate mental health assistance, you can access a local crisis program, such as Carilion’s CONNECT (540-981-8181), go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

Remember, it’s better to get help for yourself or someone else if needed. Getting help is better than the alternative.

Family Service of Roanoke Valley and Psychological Health Roanoke have qualified and experienced clinicians available to help you and your family.


Hanson, Rick, Ph.D., Is Feeling Cared About Important? Psychology Today, retrieved on July 9, 2018 from

Wolf, Carolyn Reinach. Rising Suicide Rates and Needed Mental Health Interventions. Psychology Today, retrieved on July 9, 2018 from