How Do I Support Someone With a Mental Illness?
Suffering from a mental illness is a debilitating and lonely experience. Because many people cover up their symptoms and state of health from even those they’re closest to, this forces many to resort to distressing behaviours.
According to the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, 45% of Australians have experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime.
If you notice someone displaying signs of mental distress or know that they’re experiencing a recognised mental illness, you may be confused about how you can provide the right support. While you must not make your own diagnoses or provide unsolicited advice, there are a number of ways in which you can provide much-needed relief.
Continue reading our post for some helpful tips!
Find out as much as you can about their mental illness
One of the first things you can do to support your friend, colleague, or loved one is to find out as much as you can about their diagnosis.
Sometimes, you will find that many struggle or are ashamed to explain what they’re experiencing. If you do a little reading and find out all you can about their condition, you will find that having open conversations, providing reassurance and the right kind of support is much easier.
Moreover, being informed also helps you identify warning signs and other indicators of a deteriorating mental state. This, in turn, will tell you when it’s time to get professional help, including hospitalisation, if necessary.
If the individual in question hasn’t seen a therapist yet, try and have an open conversation about what they may be experiencing. If their condition sounds serious and shows signs of affecting their personal lives and/or school and work, make them get the help they need.
Have supportive dialogues – not arguments
If you want to be supportive of someone with a mental illness, it’s important to start with having the right conversations. Above any other consideration, It’s important to build a relationship of trust and rapport.
It’s especially important that you don’t try and convince someone that “it’s all in their head” or they can “get over it” if they want to. Be supportive and show your concern by asking them how they feel and if there’s anything you can do to make things better for them.
Sometimes, you will find that companionable silence is all they need – give the person you care about what they need, not what you think they need.
Compile information on support groups and other support services
Getting help for a mental health condition is often more difficult than it sounds. Leaving aside the cost that comes with this, there’s also the fact that it can be a lonely and painstaking experience.
One of the best ways you can be there for someone with a mental illness is to be ready with support services, such as telehealth counselling and group counselling if you feel that they may benefit from this.
People who struggle with their mental health often find it difficult to ask for help. It’s useful, therefore, for you to be armed with options for them to pursue if you notice that they aren’t managing their symptoms effectively.
Stay on top of your own mental health needs
In the process of caring for someone with a mental illness, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed or in extremely low spirits. If this is the case, it’s absolutely crucial that you take a break or manage your stress by receiving your own psychological support.
If you aren’t in the right headspace, it’s extremely difficult for you to care about those around you. It’s only by meeting your own mental health needs that you can meet those of the people you care about.
Know what to do when any of your loved ones are suffering from a mental illness
If someone you care about is suffering from a mental health issue, it’s important that you stay by their side on their road to recovery.
By taking the right steps, such as those mentioned above, this process will prove less confusing than you imagine. That being said, it’s important that you remain realistic about how your support affects someone with a mental illness – recovery is often long and slow.
By being patient and supportive, however, you can make all the difference to someone who would otherwise feel very much alone.