Bring V-A-RⓇ to your campus, school, or community
Active Minds offers easy-to-use tools to help train your peers on the V-A-R conversation model, including simple resources to create your own group discussion on V-A-R.
Active Minds’ everyday tool for everyday challenges
V-A-R®, Validate-Appreciate-Refer, is Active Minds’ everyday tool for everyday conversations. It’s about showing up for one another every day in meaningful ways.
Validate, Appreciate, Refer® are three easy-to-use steps that provide a path to listening and responding in a helpful way.
V-A-R conversations can take many forms — phone, in-person, text message, video call. No matter the format, what matters most is being there and showing that you care.
A conversation can be life changing. Feeling seen and heard can make all the difference in the world. Feeling supported may be exactly what someone needs.
It can be challenging, though, to know exactly what to say when someone tells you they are stressed, having a difficult day, or struggling with their mental health.
V-A-R helps us know what to say in those moments. A conversation that includes the elements of Validate, Appreciate, Refer is one that allows you to actively listen to someone you care about and support them in meaningful ways.
A conversation with you could make all the difference and prevent a crisis from developing later.
With V-A-R, Active Minds lets everyone know that someone doesn’t need to be in a crisis to seek help; you don’t have to be an expert to provide help; and help can come in many different forms. Being there for someone in a moment of need is what it’s all about.
Let them know what they’re feeling is okay and that you believe them. Validation sounds like…
Speaking up can be a challenging step — let them know it’s a good one. Also show you’re there to support them. Affirmation sounds like…
Support them in figuring out what would be most helpful to them. Help is available. The refer step is most effective when formed as a question. Refer sounds like…
To learn more about V-A-R in depth, please consider hosting a V-A-R event, led by an Active Minds Speaker or V-A-R expert.
If you’d like to learn more about our V-A-R training events, please schedule an informational call with our Active Minds Speakers Team.schedule a call
In this real-life example, Remi recognized that there might be more to their roommate’s story:
My roommate was stressed about midterms and was having trouble sleeping and concentrating. He came home one day frustrated by the response he had received after confiding in his friends.
They had told him things like: ‘You’re in college, we’re all stressed,’ ‘That’s just midterms,’ and ‘You’ll get over it.’
He didn’t feel like his friends were really listening or that they understood the extent of his anxiety. It wasn’t just about exams.
Remi’s subsequent response to their roommate shows V-A-R in action.
They first validated his feelings: “That sounds really difficult. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and stressed, especially during exams.”
They then appreciated his courage: “I’m glad you shared this with me — I know it isn’t always easy.”
Finally, they referred him to appropriate skills and support: “It might be helpful to talk to someone about how you’re feeling and what’s keeping your mind racing.” and “Have you tried engaging in some self-care activities? I know exercise usually helps you relax. Have you been to the gym lately?”
Here are some things you might hear a friend, family member, or colleague say that suggests they may need support. Consider these to be an opening to having a fuller conversation. Respond with the V-A-R steps in mind — Validate, Appreciate, Refer.
If you hear a friend mention the word suicide or suggest they are considering hurting themselves (for example, suggesting they want to end it all), it’s critical to help them seek professional help. See our Signs and Symptoms page for more information.
V-A-R is a guide to how to respond to everyday troubles in a helpful way. For many situations, you don’t have to be an expert to help – you just have to be there. Have a conversation to let someone know, I’m here for you, and then refer them to additional sources of support.
For crisis situations, see the Crisis Information: Get Help Now page.
If you are worried that someone may be considering suicide, find support immediately by texting “BRAVE” to 741-741. Stay with them until they are safe.
Ayudarle a un amigo(a) es tan simple como estar presentes en sus diarios sufrimientos. Para ayudar, V-A-R es la guía de Active Minds que puedes usar para los retos diarios.
Las letras V-A-R corresponden a tres pasos: Validar-Apreciar-Referir. Estos pasos son diseñados para ser fáciles de entender, recordar, e implementar. Esta herramienta puede ayudarte a escuchar y responderle a tus amigos de una manera servicial.
Las conversaciones V-A-R pueden tomar muchas formas- por teléfono, en persona, mensajes de texto, o Facetime. El medio no importa tanto como el mensaje de que tu amigo es importante y de que tú estas allí para escucharlos.