When someone close to you has a physical illness, it can turn your entire world upside down. But it can be even more traumatizing if your loved one is diagnosed with a mental illness. While helping someone with a cold or flu is straightforward, helping someone with mental health is not.
People facing mental health issues require extra patience and support. Although you may not be able to see the signs of any disease, it does not mean the issue is not present. Since mental health issues can impact the entire family, to help the patient, it is vital to have a better understanding of what counts as a mental health issue and to know who to call if someone is having a mental breakdown.
What are mental health issues?
In medical terms, any disorder affecting the mental, emotional, or behavioral state of a person above 18 years old and hindering or markedly limiting the daily activities of the person’s life classifies as a serious mental illness. These include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.
When facing severe mental health issues, the treatment strategy can differ from patient to patient because every person is unique and experiences problems of varying intensity. A deeper understanding of these health issues helps you realize how every patient is unique.
If you are interested in helping people with their mental health or are interested in the mental health field, you can opt for a career in psychology. It can give you formal education in the field and a better grasp of mental illnesses so you can help those around you more effectively. Moreover, instead of attending an institute and taking classes physically, you can now opt for online courses like an online psychology masters no GRE.
But if you are here just looking for ways to help your loved ones, here are some ways and tips that you can work with.
- Don’t let them be alone
Reach out to the family and friends of the patient and establish a stable network offering practical and emotional help. Research confirms that unwavering support and comfort from family and friends play a vital role in boosting the morale of a patient with a mental health issue, thereby facilitating recovery.
Providing emotional support is necessary because people often consider mental illness something that shouldn’t be taken seriously. Hence those suffering from mental issues are scared to talk about their situation because they do not want others to shun them or make light of their problems. You can play an essential role in supporting someone who is not feeling well by allowing them to share these things without hesitation. Refrain from blaming them for being unwell like you would not blame someone with a physical ailment. Instead, encourage them to be hopeful and help them feel less lonely and ashamed.
- Find them a support group
Often, people facing the same problems are the ones who are most understanding and supportive because they can empathize with the patient’s current situation. Hence if any of your loved ones are battling a severe mental health issue, consider introducing them to a support group where they can interact with people undergoing similar challenges. Frequently meeting with such people will renew the patient’s self-esteem and confidence, giving him the motivation to try and get better.
Finding such a group can be tricky. First, seek help from your local hospital staff or the mental health agency in your locality. Then, if you still don’t locate a reliable support group, reach out to the local branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and they will find you a group immediately.
- Help them stay busy
People struggling with mental health tend to isolate themselves, aggravating their symptoms and leading to more anxiety. So one thing you can do is help them stay busy with other activities and encourage them not to spend all their time dwelling on things. Better yet, join their preferred activities with them and give them company. If they have someone accompanying them, they are likelier to go out or do something fun.
- Help around the house
Consistent treatment is vital in the process of recovery. If you wish to help your loved one feel better as soon as possible, you can help manage the treatment and schedule check-up appointments on time. Additionally, if you spend ample time around your loved ones, you can remind them to take their medications on time. You can also help with their chores or encourage them to get to it. For example, take the garbage out, help them do laundry, or cook them a meal. Or ask them to join you in the kitchen to cook something together.
- Be prepared to listen
One of the best ways you can help someone struggling is by providing a non-judgmental ear. Show them that you care by being an active listener. Put aside your phone and give them your undivided attention by holding eye contact and remaining engaged in the conversation. Since giving someone complete attention is hard, especially if you have other responsibilities, be patient with them. It is a big deal if they open up to you, so you don’t want to do anything that discourages them.
Use handy tips to guarantee you become a better listener. For example, as soon as the conversation starts, refrain from making yourself the center of attention. Instead, focus on them and ask questions. Moreover, you can also maintain a listening diary for a short duration to note the number of times you were an excellent listener. Record the things that divert your attention, the problems you faced, and what you think was satisfactory.
Having someone with a mental health issue can affect the entire family. However, if the patients receive an early diagnosis and follow their treatment consistently, they can handle their conditions, surmount the challenges, and have wholesome and meaningful lives. Since family members and friends immediately surrounding the patient play a pivotal role in their recovery, they must know how they can provide help.