Mental illness is something that many of us and our loved ones will experience throughout our lifetimes. Mental illness can include a diagnosis of a mood disorder, personality disorder, or psychotic disorder but can also include feelings of anxiety, depression, or other trauma-related symptoms. Although mental health illnesses are very common, it can be difficult to know how to understand and support someone that is experiencing one of these conditions. Anyone can experience mental health problems at any age, but family and friends can make all the difference in an individual’s recovery process.
There are many steps that you can take to support your loved one that may be experiencing mental illness. There are also different steps you can take depending on the severity or duration of an illness. The most important thing to remember is that mental illness can negatively affect the relationship that one has with themself. Be kind to them and never be afraid to reiterate how much you love them. Here, we offer some other ways you can support your loved one that may be experiencing problems with their mental health.
Have Authentic Conversations About Mental Health
Honest and open conversations about mental health are becoming more common, although many individuals still avoid discussing their internal struggles. Many people grew up in households where mental health conversations were negatively stereotyped or disregarded. Due to this, young adults have learned to keep their struggles or issues to themself and don’t understand how to ask for support or guidance. Every individual deserves to experience mental wellness, even when a mental illness is present. With this being said, start having genuine conversations about mental health as early as you can.
Having authentic conversations with your loved ones about the things that you and they are thinking, feeling, and experiencing not only enhances mental wellbeing but also reduces feelings of isolation or loneliness that often accompany mental illness. Ask questions to learn more about the things your loved one may be experiencing, and practice reflective and empathetic listening. Reassure your loved one that they are not alone in the way that they feel. Doing this will strengthen the bond you have with your loved one and will also enable your loved one to know and understand that they have a reliable and compassionate source of support.
Express your concerns to your loved one in a compassionate way. Remind your loved one that there are treatments available for what they may be experiencing, and reassure them that you are genuinely concerned about their well-being.
Increase Your Knowledge of Mental Illness
There are always new things to be learned in the area of mental health. Another way you can support your loved one is by learning more about mental illness, whether it be your loved one’s condition or mental health in general. You can become aware of the warning signs that may lead an individual to be susceptible to developing depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition. Education can be a prevention technique, but it can also be useful for understanding and navigating treatment options for your loved one.
When your loved one is experiencing a mental health condition that you have not experienced yourself, it may seem like there is a disconnect in your relationship or friendship. This rarely has to be the case, as becoming educated about the signs and symptoms that they may be experiencing can demonstrate how dedicated you are to being a source of support for them. You can also be an advocate for your loved one by educating others so that they understand the facts about mental health illnesses, reducing stigma.
Offer Your Help When Needed
For individuals suffering from severe mental illness, even the most simple tasks can seem exhausting. If you are looking to support them, you can try to offer help with any tasks that they may need assistance with. This could be things like keeping the house organized, helping with childcare, or bringing attention to unhealthy habits. They could need assistance with balancing their tasks while they seek treatment or try a new medication. Allow your loved one to decide what they need help with or if they need it at all, but it never hurts to ask if they need assistance.
Support a Healthy Lifestyle
Encourage your loved one to attend events and gatherings with you. Motivate financial stability through your own habits, and make proper time for self-care. Empower your loved one to engage in healthy coping mechanisms and to develop a healthy lifestyle for themself. A healthy lifestyle also includes encouraging your loved one to get the treatment that they need, whether it be residential treatment, weekly therapy or support groups, or seeing a psychiatrist for medication. Mental health professionals will be able to navigate individualized treatment options for your loved one’s specific needs. They can also help with life skills training as well as locating other helpful community resources. Support your loved one by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, showing them that it is achievable and that they deserve to experience it too.
Mental health illness is incredibly common, although most of us are unsure how to support our loved ones that may be suffering from it. There are many ways to support your loved one that is experiencing mental illness, beginning with having authentic and open conversations about it. Become educated about their mental health condition or diagnosis and bring awareness to the distressing symptoms that they may be experiencing. You can always offer your assistance whenever they may need it and maintain a healthy lifestyle of your own that your loved one can rely on for support and guidance. Reassure them that treatment is available. SoCal Mental Health has a team of dedicated healthcare professionals that collaborate with families in client care. We believe that the support of family and friends is crucial to an individual’s mental health recovery. For more information about the treatment options we offer, give us a call today at (888) 627-6225.