An estimated one in five Americans struggles with a diagnosable mental disorder. That means that most of us have a family member affected by mental illness. It can be heartbreaking to see a loved one struggle in this way and while you likely want to help and support them, it can often be difficult to know how to best do that. You may not know what to say, how to express your concern, or how to help them through rough patches. Although it can be challenging, showing your loved one compassion, support, and understanding can play a major role in their well-being and even their recovery. Here are a few things you can do to help.
1. Educate yourself
The more you understand about what your loved one is going through, the better you’ll be able to support them. If your friend or family member has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, take time to research information about the disorder such as what causes it, how it’s treated, and common misconceptions about it.
2. Express your concern
If you notice a change in your loved one’s behavior or demeanor, gently and kindly express your concern to them. Use statements such as “I’ve been worried about you lately” or “I’ve noticed you seem a bit different lately. Is everything okay?” Resist the urge to pressure them to tell you what’s going on or make assumptions. Instead, let them volunteer information when they feel ready.
3. Offer a non-judgmental ear
A kind, loving ear can go a long way in helping someone with mental illness feel supported and understood. Let your loved one know that you are there for them and available to listen. Avoid offering unsolicited advice or trying to problem solve. Simply listen and let them know that it’s okay to feel what they’re feeling.
4. Encourage them to seek professional help
Despite doing your best to understand your loved one’s condition, you cannot help them in the same way a therapist or doctor can. Try to encourage your loved one to visit their primary care doctor who can rule out potential medical causes of their distress and refer them to a mental health specialist if needed.
5. Offer practical help Someone struggling with their mental health can easily feel overwhelmed by everyday tasks. Offering to help with their grocery shopping, watching their kids for part of the day, or cleaning their house can make a big difference and show them that you care.
6. Stay connected
People who are struggling with their mental health tend to feel isolated and may start withdrawing from their friends and family. Make it a point to regularly check in with your loved one with a text, call, or email. Also, keep inviting them places as you normally would. They may not feel up for an outing, but the invitations will help them feel included and less alone.
7. Be patient
It’s important to understand that recovering from a mental illness can be full of ups and downs. It can take time to find an effective treatment plan and even with treatment, your loved one may still experience dips. Keeping this in mind will help you set realistic expectations and remain hopeful and supportive in the face of challenges and setbacks.
Connect with SoundMind Wellness
If you or your loved one are seeking support in navigating mental health struggles, feel free to reach out to SoundMind Wellness to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists. We intimately understand the challenges surrounding mental illness and would be happy to support you and/or your loved one on the path toward living a happy, healthy life. Call us at (954)-613-9414 or fill out our online pre-screen questionnaire to get started.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of mental healthcare, wellness and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for a relationship with a licensed mental health practitioner. Always seek the advice of your therapist, physician or other licensed mental health professional with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional mental health advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.