Despite mental health disorders being increasingly common and normalized, it does not make watching your loved one struggle with their mental health any easier. Especially if you have not experienced a mental health disorder yourself or have not experienced their direct diagnosis, you may feel helpless in your lack of understanding of your loved one and what they are going through. However, your support does not go unnoticed. It is essential for you to recognize that your support and willingness to learn can make all the difference in your loved one’s recovery.
When a family member or other loved one experiences a mental health or substance use disorder, it tends to affect more people than just them. If you are blood-related to this person, you may have an increased risk of developing a mental health disorder as you both share a genetic predisposition. Even if you are not related, there are things that you can do to keep your mental health protected as you work to support your loved one and cope with their mental health condition.
Start With Compassion
Do you remember when your loved one first began to struggle with their mental health? Do you know when their symptoms started to exacerbate?
If your loved one has yet to seek treatment, it can be emotionally distressing to watch them continue to struggle with their mental health and avoid treatment. They may hesitate to seek treatment because they have not yet come to terms with their own need for support or think they can “fix” themselves on their own. Whatever the reasoning may be, there is no doubt that this pre-contemplation stage is frustrating.
Before holding an intervention for your loved one, it is crucial to offer genuine compassion for what they are going through. Try to understand their struggles through their eyes instead of viewing their mental health distress as your problem. If the first mental health conversation you have with them is about the things that they need to change, you can expect them to deny it.
No one has perfect mental health, so it may help you to talk about similarities in your mental health struggles and if there are any overlaps between you and your loved one. You can also approach the conversation by talking about the things you are struggling with and give time for them to open up about what they are struggling with as a response. Above all, be patient and assure your loved one that you are both on the same team.
Research Their Condition
If your loved one has a mental health diagnosis, it is important that you do your part in researching their condition. This not only helps you to understand the things that they are thinking and feeling, but it also helps you learn the most effective treatments for that particular condition.
Despite your loved one receiving a diagnosis and maybe even associated treatment, there are still extreme challenges that you and your loved one may face during their recovery process. If they are prescribed medication to help with their mental health symptoms, it is vital to be prepared to witness potential adverse effects. It may help to research their particular medication, side effects, and how mental health medication works in general so you can better support your loved one while they trial their medication.
It is crucial to understand that most people diagnosed with a mental health condition improve over time, but the attitudes and behaviors of their loved ones can make a vast difference in how quickly healing takes place. Try your best to engage in a positive mindset and have realistic expectations for your loved one.
Reach Out for Support
Most people that struggle to cope with their loved one’s mental health condition neglect to realize that there are support resources available that are specifically tailored to them. You can attend group or community support groups to meet with others that are experiencing the same emotional and psychological challenges that you may be. If not a support group, there are always educational resources available in every community to help loved ones understand more about mental health disorders and how to effectively support one another going through it.
When trying to cope, you may also neglect your own self-care. In order to be of support for your loved one, you must take care of your own needs first. Continue to do things you enjoy while prioritizing healthier eating and exercise in your life.
If you choose to be involved in your loved one’s care, you can reach out to their mental health professionals to see what else you can be doing to improve their quality of healing and recovery. If you need space, give yourself space. Do what you think is best for yourself while keeping your loved one in mind. More than anything else, recognize that they are human and trying to do their best in this world.
Coping with your loved one’s mental health condition can bring about a range of emotions. While it can be frustrating to watch them struggle and avoid treatment, you know that all you want is for them to experience peace and clarity. It is important to always frame conversations with your loved one in a positive, compassionate, and understanding way. Research the symptoms and effective treatments of your loved one’s condition so that you are more aware of what they are experiencing. Reach out for support when you need it, and prioritize your own mental health. SoCal Mental Health is a treatment center that offers family programs for individuals struggling with their loved one’s mental health. Our family program will educate you on the best ways to support your loved one while in treatment. To learn more about our treatment center, give us a call today at (949) 502-2041.