I recently aalcohol-428392_640ttended a Mental Health First Aid training, and it occurred to me that often it’s a family member or friend who is the first one to bring a health issue to our attention.

Health concerns can be kind of a tough topic to breach with someone we care about, because we want to respect their privacy and don’t want to overstep or offend, yet we can’t help but worry and we want to offer support.

So here’s a way to voice your concerns about the mental, emotional or physical health of someone you care about:

1) Demonstrate respect:
I have a concern I want to talk to you about.
When would be a good time for us to talk in private?

2) Describe your concern briefly, using the
most objective and non-accusatory language you
can muster:
I know you quit smoking last year, and I’ve been
smelling smoke on your clothing for the past few days.
Is everything ok? I just want to let you know that I care
about you and I’m here if you want to talk about anything.

3) Listen without judging or offering advice.
This will be really hard to do, but it’s imperative in
order to keep the lines of communication open for
the future.

4) Do not threaten, lecture, or give ultimatums.
Instead, offer your support and encourage them
to speak to their doctor or seek counseling if they,
too, are concerned.

5) End with reassurance that you care about them
and want the best in life for them. Invite them to come
and talk to you anytime without fear of judgment.

6) Seek support for yourself. Find a friend or counselor
you can vent your worries and fears to, or connect with
one of the many support groups for loved ones of folks
with health or substance issues. You don’t have to go
it alone.

Want to learn more about helping a loved one with addiction? I highly recommend Beyond Addiction by Foote and Wilkens et al. They also have a blog: http://motivationandchange.com/cmcs-blog-for-individuals-and-families/