Mental illness is often viewed as a taboo topic. People are often reluctant to talk about it openly, for fear of being judged or misunderstood. This can be especially true when it comes to family and friends of someone who is battling mental illness. If you're one of these people, you may be feeling lost and unsure of what to do. Don't worry, you're not alone. Here are some tips on how to deal with a loved one's mental illness.
What is mental illness and what are the signs that someone you love may be suffering from one.
Well mental illness is a general term that refers to mental health conditions that interfere with mental well-being or daily activity. There are many mental illnesses including depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and ADHD. If you think your loved one may be suffering from mental illness talk about it with them in an open and caring way by asking open ended questions like "I've noticed you haven't been doing things you usually do-is there something going on?"
Signs of mental illness include mood swings, poor hygiene, lack of motivation or interest in activities they previously enjoyed, difficulty concentrating and changes in eating habits.
How to support your loved one through their mental health journey.
A first step to supporting someone who's suffering mental illness is to understand mental health and mental illness.
When someone is going through mental illness it can be a very scary time, so knowing that you're not alone in this journey is a good place to start. The best thing you can do for your friend or family member who's suffering from mental illness is to listen without judgement and express unconditional support.
Show them that you care by asking about their mental health, even if it makes you uncomfortable; the more they know you care, the better they will feel and the more strength they will gain. If possible, try to refrain from offering advice unless asked to do so-assisting with practical tasks like shopping or cooking meals will show your loved one that they're cared for even when feeling unwell.
If you feel overwhelmed by the mental illness, don't be afraid to seek help yourself. A mental health condition can affect anyone and everyone, it's important that friends and family of someone going through mental illness take care of their own mental well-being too. In time your loved ones may recover from mental illness or they may continue to struggle with mental illness for many years to come. Either way it is important for them to know that they have a support system.
How to cope with seeing your loved one suffer
Having a mental illness can be physically and mentally exhausting so it is completely understandable that your friend or family member may not want to do certain things anymore. Try not to blame them if staying in bed all day seems like an easier option than going to a party with friends. Be patient and understanding, even if your loved one seems irritated or angry at times-this is often a symptom of mental illness. Try not to take it personally.
In time they'll be back to their usual self again, but until then focus on what you can do for them instead of dwelling on what they can't do for themselves. And above all else show them that they are supported unconditionally by giving them the space and freedom they need while still maintaining contact regularly.
How to talk to your loved one about mental illness
Make sure the conversation doesn't leave them feeling judged or isolated.
Here are some tips on how to talk to a loved one about mental illness:
- Introduce mental illness as a medical condition with a mental health component, not a personal weakness.
- Listen without judgement and let them know you care unconditionally by asking questions like "are you feeling okay?" or "how can I help?".
- Ask them what would be helpful for you to do when they're feeling unwell .
- Avoid offering advice unless it is specifically requested of you, instead allow your loved one the opportunity to explore their mental health journey independently by supporting their decisions and choices even when they seem risky or unhelpful.
Remember that mental illness is not contagious so don't avoid your loved one just because mental illness scares you. Instead be supportive by offering to help when they ask for it, listening to them without judgement and letting them know that mental illness does not define who they are as a person.
How to deal with a loved one's mental health
Here are some tips on how to support your loved one through their mental health journey:
- Seek out resources for all involved including individualized mental health treatment plans, psychiatry specialists or even private therapists .
- Understand that mental illness is often isolating so don't shy away from staying in contact even when they're too unwell to leave their home .
- Offer practical assistance like cleaning the house, taking care of children or doing their laundry as mental illness can make it difficult to concentrate on day-to-day activities.
- Let them know they are valued even when mental illness makes them feel unworthy .
Remember that mental health affects all those around those living with mental illness so don't be afraid to seek out help for yourself whether that means a mental health specialist, a private therapist or even a support group for loved ones who live with mental illness. Remember that mental illness is not your fault and you're not alone in this struggle. There's no shame in asking for help and doing what it takes to maintain your own mental wellbeing so you'll have the emotional energy needed to support your loved one through mental illness.
When to seek help for mental health
Help your loved one seek mental health treatment if they are suffering from intense feelings of hopelessness, sadness or worthlessness .
If mental illness is causing your loved one to feel suicidal either directly or indirectly then it's crucial that you encourage them to get mental health treatment immediately by taking the following steps:
- Seek immediate professional mental health care for yourself and your loved one.
- Call 911 immediately if someone is in imminent danger of suicide or harm because time is of the essence when seeking mental healthcare during a crisis .
- Know the warning signs of suicide so you'll be better equipped to keep your loved ones safe while also encouraging professional help when needed.
Mental illness is a real and serious disease that should not be ignored. If you are worried about someone, the best thing to do is talk to them about it. You may be their only hope of getting help. Remember, you are not alone in this. There are resources available to help both you and your loved one through this difficult time. If you are feeling overwhelmed or helpless, get mental health treatment for yourself as a mental illness places a huge strain on loved ones. Getting help for yourself will ensure you have the emotional energy necessary to support your mental health journey.