3 Ways to Help a Loved One Struggling with Mental Illness
Here are some suggestions to help you fight your mental illness.
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Mental illness is a huge drain on each person that deals with it, but it also causes problems for family members and close friends. At times, it can be hard to accept a loved one’s condition and learn how best to help them. Whether or not you’re familiar with mental illness in its various forms or not, it can still be hard to know best how to help those you love. With that in mind, here are three different things to keep in mind when trying to help your loved ones in their struggle with mental illness.
Listen, don’t treat
Whenever you speak to people, it can be so much easier to offer advice than to listen to people’s true needs. It’s human nature to relate our experiences to others, but where we often make mistakes is becoming prescriptive with our own experiences. At times, this can be helpful, but we often risk alienating people because we fail to understand what their true issues are.
One thing that you can do is practice active and empathetic listening, rather than listening and instantly prescribing solutions and suggestions to mental health issues. Don’t focus on changing the other person’s point of view, focus on understanding. All of us want support and understanding, and showing that to people with a mental illness is one of the greatest ways to help them.
Know your resources
While actively listening, there may be times where you are asked to give your advice or resources. This is when it becomes important to understand the various options available to those facing mental illness. For any case, it is important to ensure that your loved one is getting professional help. Whether this means therapy or medication, these should be the first things mentioned to them. However, many people who are receiving help in either or both of these ways still struggle with their illness. This is when it can become helpful to understand other available, supplemental options.
As you familiarize yourself with the world of mental health, you may come across different things to help treat mental illnesses, group therapy, exercise, and wilderness therapy just to name a few. Group therapy provides people with a like-minded community of people. Whether they’re all struggling with the same kind of mental illness or all come from the same background, group therapy sessions can allow your loved one a needed sense of belonging and understanding. In mountainous and more wild states such as Utah, families may have access to forms of wilderness therapy for their children or other loved ones. Coupled with therapy, a new environment, and discomfort, Utah wilderness programs can give children and families an opportunity to receive therapy while being in the great outdoors and learning important skills and lessons. Regardless of where you live, there are other methods of treatment and help that can give you and your loved one aid while learning to deal with mental illness.
Support a healthy life
When your loved one does start finding the treatment they need or making necessary changes, it’s up to you to be there to support them. In the beginning stages, this may mean that you are more involved. You might become an exercise buddy for a roommate who’s decided to add regular exercise to their treatment. Or, as a parent, you might need to juggle scheduling therapy sessions and doctor’s appointments. Whatever your conditions and those of your loved one, you can be there to take some of the burdens off their shoulders by doing things for them or giving them needed and frequent encouragement.
Our understanding of mental health issues is constantly growing, and with it, the options available for those suffering from it, both the person with the condition and those who love them. If you or someone you love is struggling, reach out for help, do some research, and find what it is that can best help yourself or them become a more mentally healthy person.