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Published on September 13, 2019

The Power of a Kind Word and a Listening Ear

Whether a person is having a bad day, experiencing symptoms of mental illness, or struggling with anything in life, there is one thing that impacts us all and in many cases can be life changing: being acknowledged by those around us. Providing kind words, a listening ear, and building connectedness which is fading in today’s world is important.

We all have the ability to provide a transformational shift in someone’s day by simply acknowledging someone sitting on the school bus who might look sad, saying something kind to the co-worker who is sitting alone in the cafeteria, saying hello to the stranger walking by on the street, or welcoming someone to your group who does not appear to feel welcomed. Never underestimate the power of your kind words and the time you spend listening to someone.

One in Four Impacted by Mental Illness

The World Health Organization indicates one in four will be impacted by mental illness sometime in their life. In the U.S., depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. It affects about 7.1 percent of adults and 13.3 percent of adolescents ages 12-17, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Each mental illness has its own symptoms but there are some common signs in adults and youth, one which is feeling sad.

The power of kindness and a listening ear can change anyone’s day for the better but connecting with someone who is feeling sad with unsolicited kind words and a listening ear can be life changing for that person. Research continues to show that the more connected we are as individuals the less likely it is there will be suicides, substance use and violence in general. Kind words and a listening ear inspire connectedness!

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” - Leo Buscaglia

If you or a friend are having symptoms and you are not sure what mental health condition might be present, take a free, confidential behavioral health online screening for yourself or on behalf of a friend or loved one.

And finally, don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are thinking of suicide and to ask directly “are you thinking of suicide?” Talking about suicide does not make the situation worse and helps the person by encouraging them to open up. If someone is suicidal, do not leave them alone. Take them to the nearest emergency room, call 911, or call the 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Helpline. If you are unsure, uncomfortable or unable to take action, you can call this number or text the Crisis Text Line by texting ACT to 741741.

Please join us for this community program marking Mental Illness Awareness Week:
Lying to Myself: The Ryan Leaf Story - Learn about Ryan Leaf, a former pro football player and his mental health and opioid addiction struggles amid the pressures to succeed in the NFL.
Thursday, Oct. 3, 6:30-8 p.m., St. Mark's Methodist Church, 8550 Pioneers Blvd.
Free, but you must pre-register.
Call 402-481-8886 or register online today.

dave miers

About Dr. Dave Miers

Dave Miers, PhD, is director of behavioral health services at Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

He helped establish the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition in 1999 and chaired/co-chaired this Coalition until 2017. He currently serves on the Board of Directors. Dr. Miers is a member of the leadership group for the Lincoln/Lancaster County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Dr. Miers has published research and co-authored a chapter in the Routledge International Handbook of Clinical Suicide Research focusing on family survivors of a child suicide. Dr. Miers helped develop the Lincoln Lancaster Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team in Lincoln, Neb. He also helped develop other LOSS teams in Nebraska and is active with LOSS team development on a national level.


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