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Tia Burroughs Clayton, MSS

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Alyson Ferguson, MPH
Chief Operating Officer

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Vice President of Learning & Community Impact

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Caitlin O'Brien, MPH
Director of Learning & Community Impact

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Joe Pyle, MA

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Tyrone Quarterman, BA, MPH Candidate
Graduate Student

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Georgia Kioukis, PhD

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Validate. Appreciate. Refer: Active Minds' new V-A-R model

Sep 16, 2019

For the National Suicide Prevention Month 2019, Active Minds released a new set of resources titled V-A-R: Validate, Appreciate, and Refer. In their words, it’s an “everyday guide for everyday challenges,” meaning the model is meant to be intuitive and easy for anyone to support those close to them if they suspect they may be going through a difficult time.

V-A-R is meant to be for non-crisis situations that many people face for more day-to-day struggles. It is a gateway for conversation for a person enduring common troubles to feel that they are heard and that someone is there for them. In the case of someone mentioning how exhausted they are or that they have a lot going on, Active Minds has offered the following steps to be in their suggested order:

  • Validating their feelings in the moment is important because it acknowledges that those feelings are normal, and they shouldn’t feel ashamed. Simply saying “I believe you” or “That makes sense” can allow a person to feel that they are heard.
  • Appreciating their courage in talking about their problems can help break down a barrier. “I’m here for you” and “Thank you for sharing” are some examples of expressing this.
  • Referring them to skills and support depending on the circumstances gives a person the opportunity to seek follow-up to that conversation. Whether that’s a call to a hotline, setting up a meeting to a local support group, or using technology for self-care tools, making sure people have the resources they need to cope with what they are feeling is crucial.

In addition to the main V-A-R resource page, there are easy to use tools such as the wallet card to share and use to serve as a reminder of the steps. There are also workshop kits geared towards youth specifically and a general audience, and through inquiry an organization can request a speaker-led training by a representative of Active Minds.

Suicide prevention does not have to be a complex activity as showcased through this model. While V-A-R does not address handling a crisis, it can serve as a buffer to prevent or delay a crisis from occurring. If you or someone you know may be struggling, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text CONNECT to 741741 for Crisis Text line.