5 Tips To Support A Loved One Struggling With Mental Illness
1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue this year. And the current pandemic-related restrictions on our lives mean we are all missing the support we usually have from those around us. So in order to empower us to better care for one another, here are 7 helpful tips you can implement this week to support your friends or family that may be struggling with mental illness.
- Simply Be There For Them
As technology grabs a hold of our attention more and more, it is becoming less common to spend time talking with our loved ones without having a screen on or scrolling through an app when the conversation hits a lul. Take a break from technology, look people in the eye, treat each other like human beings, and tell the people you care for the most that you love them.
- Start The First Conversation
Talking openly about mental health is really important and helps to reduce the stigma behind mental illness. When people talk freely, they become more aware of what mental health problems are, and can better understand their own emotions and wellbeing. Conversations don’t always need to be formal face-to-face sit downs, but find ways to talk about mental health that work for you: while driving, cooking, or shopping, or you could discuss celebrities who openly talk about their mental health!
- Care For Them Enough To Be Uncomfortable
There’s a reason that “caring for someone” seems too easy if you’re just waiting around for someone to bring up their problems on their own. Truly caring for someone means, standing your ground and letting them know you won’t put up with certain behaviors, as well as bringing up topics they may not want to talk about, but need to hear. Sometimes, having a backbone is the best way to help a sick loved one.
- Be A Good Listener
Everyone knows the feeling. You’re talking to someone and you can tell from their body language they’re distracted and not really listening to you. Good listening is an act of empathy. Try to see the world through their eyes, understand their emotions, and let them know you care. Don’t judge, don’t bring your agenda, and don’t try to fix the problems they’re talking about. Rather be grounded, empathetic, and listen to learn.
- Ask A Second Time
It’s a common greeting to ask “how are you?” and just as common to hear responses like “Fine”, “Great”, and “Okay”. It’s important to recognize that even if someone says they are “Fine” they might not be at all. Asking a second time, “how are you?” can make all the difference in someone opening up and talking about how they really are doing.
Caring for your loved ones struggling with their mental health is difficult and not always possible for everyone at all times. Some people are more difficult to care for and some of us are not in a place ourselves to handle someone who is facing this type of illness. But if you are that special someone, you can be a beautiful example to them, a friend in time of need, and possibly a catalyst for them to move forward on a path of recovery!