How To Support and Help a Loved One With A Mental Illness
Published Oct 9, 2018 • By Louise Bollecker
How To Support A Loved One With A Mental Illness?
This year, World Mental Health Day 2018 takes place on the 10th of October and the focus is particularly on strong mental health during childhood and adolescence. For this occasion, we should all make efforts to try to understand our loved ones who are suffering with a mental illnesses or diagnosis and discuss ways to help them.
Preventable Disorders From An Early Age
Did you know that half of mental disorders appear before the age of 14? Yet, in the majority of cases, they go unnoticed. Thus, it is essential for families to listen to children and adolescents and help them grasp the right tools to deal with such a condition, or, in the words of the World Health Organization (WHO), help them build the capacity for mental resilience.
Preserving the mental health of adolescents and young adults is paramount considering that suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds. Adolescents face many challenges from physical changes to life changes (such as the end of high school, the beginning of college, and a possible move away from home). The harmful use of alcohol and illicit substances, as well as eating disorders, also affects young people.
Finally, the WHO has identified two other issues for 2018 that have a profound impact on the mental health of young people: addictive online technologies and the involvement of young people in humanitarian emergencies (conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics, etc.).
Talking About Mental Disorders Is Essential
The most important aspect of fighting against mental disorders, is to acknowledge the existince of the mental disorder and to talk about it. Many people that are suffering mentally are also in denial or trying to hide how badly that they feel. The initial warning signs and symptoms of mental disorders should be noticed and above all, verbalized. Patients should not feel alone in their mental battles. In most cases, which do not require medical treatment, talking about the problem is already a step in the right direction. The focus should be to speak positively and acknowlede any progress and good moments he or she has. If possible, accompany your loved to their medical appointments so that they don’t feel alone in their illness.
The important thing is to break the isolation that people with mental disorders feel. If one of your loved ones decides to confide in you, you must try to listen to him or her without judgement. The awareness that a loved one is concerned is a big step, even if it is sometimes difficult. It is necessary to put aside guilt, sadness, disappointment, anger.
Helping A Loved One Diagnosed With A Mental Illness: Am I Up To The Task? How To React?
You too can experience difficult emotions, especially if your loved one becomes angry at you, rejects you, or ignores you. While trying to understand and help, do not forget about your own mental health. If necessary, get help so that you do not become overwhelmed by psychological distress. Talk about your situation to a separate friend or family member who will also support you. Accept the idea that you may not be able to fix your loved one's symptoms or help your loved one as much as you had hoped for. One can only do their best and give it their all.
Finally, remember that you are a close friend or family member of the loved one diagnosed with the mental illness, not his or her doctor. It is up to a health professional to take the necessary steps to improve, or even heal, your loved one.
Mental Health Contacts
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255 | For Deaf: 1-800-799-4899 | Chat
The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Mental Health America
Crisis Number: 1-800-273-TALK or text MHA to 741741
The nation's leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans offering Screening Tools for various Mental Illnessess, assistance Finding Help/Provider, and Crisis Help.
National Alliance on Mental Health
800-950-NAMI | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Text NAMI to 741741
The nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline
Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.