THERE IS GOOD IN PEOPLE, despite what we’re seeing through today’s media/political lens. We’re not all afraid of our neighbours; we do have compassion for fellow human beings. And it seems that now – more than ever – we need to re-connect with this concept and remind ourselves of the power of human touch.
Here’s a story of a gentleman who witnessed another man having a breakdown on a train. He was shouting and ranting, clearly in some form of emotional distress. Where most looked or moved away, afraid of what he might do, one elderly woman took the time to reach out and simply hold his hand. This calmed the man down and he voluntarily sat down, in tears. When questioned, the woman said: “I’m a mother and he needed someone to touch.”
Image Credit: Ehab Taha
A Mother’s Intuition
Here’s Ehab’s story verbatim, posted to his Facebook page: “I saw the most incredible display of humanity on the sky train. A six foot five man suffering from drug abuse and\or mental health issues was being very aggressive on the bus with erratic movements, cursing, shouting, etc. While everyone was scared, this one seventy year old woman reached out her hand, tightly gripping his hand until he calmed down, sat down silently, with eventual tears in his eyes. I spoke to the woman after this incident and she simply said, “I’m a mother and he needed someone to touch.” And she started to cry. Don’t fear or judge the stranger on the bus: life does not provide equal welfare for all its residents.”
The Power Of Human Touch
According to research shared by Psychology Today, humans “have developed complex languages, cultures, and emotional expression through physical contact, be it warm handshake, a sympathetic hug, or a congratulatory pat on the back. Our skin is our largest organ and very responsive. The warmth of something as simple as holding someone’s hand is translated through our physiology as “I care.”
For those suffering with various with various forms of mental illness, be it mild anxiety, clinical depression or bi-polar disorder, that non-verbal communication connects to that person’s subconscious in a way that our words may never be able to. And that may be the difference in someone asking for help or remaining silent, or the difference in someone deciding to take his/her life or choose to fight.
The current “me vs. you” climate, something that’s being encouraged by the words and actions of our politicians and political process, is isolating us from our fellow man. Something as simple as a hello or just holding someone’s hand while saying nothing at all can save someone’s life. Lucas Fiorella, the young man who inspired our work here proved this to us. We’ve seen the positive effects of this shift in the students and counsellors we work with every day.
We CAN reverse the escalation in suicides among teens and young adults…one hello at a time, one hand at a time.