Having a loved one dealing with a mental illness can be daunting. Witnessing their pain and observing their changed behavior can be heartbreaking and perplexing. While you may know how to care for them when they have a physical ailment, addressing a mental illness requires a different approach.
How Can You Help Them?
When someone you know is going through a mental health crisis, it’s essential to offer a nonjudgmental and supportive presence. Make it evident that you are available to listen and assist and allow to express how you can provide the best support.
This article will share some valuable tips and steps you can take to help your loved ones and the people around you.
1. Learn About the Illness:
Gaining knowledge about the illness can enhance your understanding of how it impacts your loved one and boost your confidence in providing care for them.
To acquire knowledge about the illness, consider attending carers groups or accessing related services. These avenues offer opportunities to connect with others who have experienced similar situations, providing both support and valuable information. You can easily find carers groups or services in your area.
2. Become a Licensed Professional:
Apart from learning about mental health from different resources, you can acquire a counseling degree to help people directly.
Mental health counselors play a huge role in mental health awareness. For decades, they have been helping countless people navigate mental health complexities. They assist them with their journey and offer insights and valuable information. They provide individuals with the necessary support, guidance, and therapy to help them cope with mental health problems and enhance their emotional well-being.
By becoming a licensed professional counselor, you can educate yourself about mental health issues. A counseling degree will equip you with the skills and expertise and allow you to help your loved ones deal with the situation effectively. You will also be able to contribute to society by educating other people and raising awareness about mental health concerns, promoting understanding, and fostering a more empathetic and supportive environment.
3. Help Them Seek Professional Help:
When a loved one experiences the initial stages of a mental illness, your family and friends become pivotal in providing support and advocacy. You have the opportunity to assist them in finding the appropriate treatment and filling in crucial information that they might struggle to articulate on their own.
How can you effectively fulfill this role?
- Make the first appointment on their behalf. You can also accompany them to counseling sessions. It is better to make a list and write down all the potential questions or concerns if you accompany them. Alternatively, if they prefer to handle it independently, express your support and willingness to assist in any way possible.
- While we may not always be able to prevent a mental health crisis, it’s important to remember that sometimes our loved ones must seek hospitalization.
4. Provide Them with Listening Ears:
When someone we care about is facing challenges, whether a friend, family member or someone dear to us, it’s common to feel uncertain about how to truly grasp their situation or offer meaningful support. Yet, in reality, simply asking if they are okay and genuinely listening can have a significant impact.
Giving someone your undivided attention and truly listening to them sends a clear signal that you deeply care about what they have to say. It becomes even more important when someone is going through a mental health crisis, as they can be highly attuned to your tone of voice and body language.
You can support them by actively listening like:
- Give them your undivided attention and maintain direct eye contact.
- Let them express themselves without being defensive. Adopt an open and non-defensive posture.
- Do not interrupt them when they are expressing themselves and leave the questions to the end.
- Reflect on their emotions and experiences, letting them know you’re truly listening and trying to understand their perspective.
- If something isn’t clear, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.
5. Offer Your Help and Support:
After attentively listening to the individual, inquire about what would be most beneficial for them in their current situation.
If they are uncertain about what actions might provide relief, you can suggest a range of possibilities, including:
- Assisting with daily tasks like laundry or cooking, lightening their load.
- Engaging in a shared activity like going for a walk or watching a movie together.
- Offering help with childcare or other caregiving responsibilities they may have.
- Supporting them in coordinating treatment appointments and refilling medications.
- Spending extended periods with your loved one to provide additional support and companionship.
6. Take Care of Yourself:
As you devote yourself to assisting a loved one, it is vital to prioritize your self-care, addressing both your physical and emotional needs. If necessary, don’t hesitate to seek support for yourself. Recognize and accept the limitations of what you can offer, understanding that it’s okay to set boundaries.
Taking care of yourself and making lifestyle changes can effectively manage symptoms of various mental health issues. It can even help prevent problems from worsening or developing further. Self-care is crucial for building resilience against unavoidable life stressors. Often, we overlook simple yet essential self-care techniques.
Being self-aware allows you to identify emotional patterns and recognize triggers that may worsen symptoms. It helps you determine the activities or tasks that contribute to your well-being. Moreover, self-awareness can alleviate negative symptoms caused by mental illnesses or stress, bringing comfort, pleasure, and relaxation to your life.
It can be difficult to support a loved one during a mental health crisis. We’ve covered some actions you can take in this article to improve their lives. The differentiator might be your support. But remember to look after yourself as well. You can give your loved ones the best support if you are emotionally conscious.
Keep in mind that everyone has different life experiences, so your approach to one person might not be appropriate for another. It is best to do extensive research to better understand mental health if you are passionate about assisting people.