Seeing a loved one sick can be worrying. But seeing the person struggling with mental illness can be even scarier! Unlike most physiological ailments, mental health conditions are somewhat tricky to detect. Not to mention, the stigma surrounding such conditions and seeking professional help makes the diagnosis harder.
In 2019, nearly 20% of Americans suffered from mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety disorder syndrome, bipolar disorder, etc. Over the last few months, these numbers have gone up. So, while you may not realize it, someone very close to you might be going through some serious troubles. If you do know someone in your inner circle, extend your support to them. How? We’ve listed a few tips below to help you out.
Encourage Them to Seek Professional Treatment
People suffering from mental health conditions often resist seeing a professional because of social stigma. The shaming makes them confide in close friends and family members instead. However, as much as you may want to, there is only so much that you will be able to help your loved one overcome a mental health problem. Therefore, start by encouraging the person to seek professional help. Signs and symptoms vary from person to person. While mild issues are easy to manage initially, complex conditions require proper medical attention.
Practitioners who advance in psychology education and related careers are experienced and well-trained to identify the gravity of the problem and create appropriate treatment plans to manage it. You can start by looking for potential therapists and booking an appointment after seeing their consent.
Learn About Their Condition
While you try to grapple with the situation and offer all the help you can, it would be wise to read up on the ailment your loved one is suffering. Educate yourself on signs and symptoms to better understand the disorder/disease. It will help you prepare yourself for what is to come.
By researching, you will be able to manage your loved one’s condition more effectively and alleviate their condition. Research suggests that patients whose families involve themselves during the healing process recover faster.
Show Your Concern
Conditions such as depression and ADS make people feel hopeless. Moreover, individuals who use substance abuse as a coping mechanism or those suffering from complex conditions are constantly at the risk of incurring additional physical injuries. Therefore, you need to support them by showing your concern for their well-being. Showing empathy is crucial.
When your loved one begins to show signs of self-destructive behavior, you need to keep reminding them that they are not alone and that you’re there to help. In such situations, using assuring words such as “‘I’m here for you” is helpful, which brings us to the next tip.
Choose Your Words Wisely
The wrong words can quickly change your concern for your loved one into an utter disregard for their current mental state. And you don’t want this to happen at any cost. Never say things like “think positive,” “it’s all in your head,” or “stop overreacting.” Never make them feel it is their fault that they are suffering from their current condition. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time could have dire consequences.
Listen to Them carefully
It is natural for people experiencing a mental health condition to sometimes want to vent out their feelings. In such situations, lend them a listening ear. Do not let the fear of being judged prevent your loved one from opening up to you. Intently listening is also another way of showing your concern.
As they unravel their thoughts in the form of words, you may be able to pick up subtle signs of their current state of mind. However, while listening, try to avoid offering them constant unsolicited advice.
Keep a Check on Them
People experiencing intense symptoms can begin to feel suicidal. To save your loved ones from spiraling down into this rabbit hole, keep a check on what they are up to. Talk to them regularly. If they don’t live with you, drop a text regularly or call them to ask how they’re doing or if they need any help. Ask them to come over or try to go out with them maybe once or twice a week. Keeping a regular check on their mental and physical health will help you closely monitor aggravating signs and take action before matters worsen.
However, don’t overdo it. There’s a fine line between showing concern and being intrusive- you don’t want to cross it as it could have negative consequences.
Watching a loved one battling a mental health issue can be emotionally draining for oneself. If you want to show support to a loved one, there are a few things that you can do. Encourage them to seek professional health to get the proper treatment they need. Educate yourself on the condition to know what to expect and how to be ready for the unexpected.
Also, show your concern and willingness to help your loved one by using assuring words, avoid blaming them, and lend a listening ear. Last but not least, keep a check on them to prevent them from incurring severe physical harm.
*Photo by Daria Shevtsova