Supporting Each Other Through a Crisis
As therapists and mental health professionals, we recognize the need to hold space and center the trauma, rage, and grief of all people involved in the tragedy unfolding in the Middle East. We must check on those impacted. Everyone deserves to live in peace, and every life is precious. Violence must end, but will not end with more violence.
In times of crisis, it is entirely natural to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about how to best support friends, family, or colleagues who are impacted. As caregivers and helpers, our innate instincts may lead us to seek solutions, and when they are elusive, we can find ourselves feeling lost. However, it's essential to recognize that sometimes genuine support is the most meaningful and impactful thing we can offer. In this spirit, we've compiled some valuable tips to help you navigate the best ways to support your network of friends, family, and peers who may be deeply affected by the ongoing crisis:
Active Listening: Give them a safe space to express their thoughts and feelings. Listen without judgment, and avoid offering solutions or opinions unless they specifically ask for them.
Empathy and Validation: Acknowledge their feelings and validate their experiences. Let them know that it's okay to feel the way they do, even if their perspectives differ from your own.
Respect Boundaries: Be mindful of their emotional boundaries. Some people may not want to discuss the situation, while others may need to talk about it extensively. Respect their autonomy in how they need to process.
Offer Practical Help: If they have family members or friends directly affected by the crisis, offer to help in practical ways, such as researching and organizing resources, providing information, or assisting with logistics.
Share Resources: Provide them with information about organizations or support groups that can offer specialized assistance to individuals with ties to the impacted regions.
Stay Informed: Keep yourself informed about the situation in the Middle East, so you can engage in informed and empathetic conversations if they choose to discuss it.
Avoid Political Debates: Unless they initiate such discussions, avoid engaging in political debates related to the conflict. These conversations can often lead to more tension.
Check-In Regularly: Reach out regularly to check on their well-being. Crisis situations can be emotionally exhausting, and consistent support can make a big difference.
Support Their Self-Care: Encourage and assist them in engaging in self-care. Offer to help in any way that allows them to prioritize their well-being, whether it's assisting with tasks, providing information on self-care resources, or simply being there to lend a hand when needed. Your support can make it easier for them to focus on self-care during these challenging times.
Respect Their Perspective: Understand that personal experiences, family ties, or historical narratives may shape their perspective. It's okay if you don't fully understand or agree with their viewpoint, but respect their right to hold it.
Additionally, you may also choose to contribute to humanitarian aid efforts that are seeking to assist those affected by the conflict:
Other resources to help aid humanitarian efforts:
The World Food Programme - The group distributes fresh bread, canned and ready-to-eat
meals, to those seeking refuge in United Nations Relief and Works Agency shelters.
Doctors Without Borders - Supporting hospitals by preparing and providing supplies, and establishing safe spaces/passages.
The International Committee of the Red Cross - Ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence.