Mental illness can be a difficult thing to deal with for both the person affected and their loved ones. It can be hard to know how to provide support, but there are some things you can do that can make a big difference.
In this post, we’ll look at ways you can offer practical and emotional support to someone with mental illness. We’ll also discuss how to cope when things get tough.
5 Ways To Support Your Loved One With Mental Illness
1. Educate everyone involved.
When a family member is struggling with mental health issues, the loved ones may often feel stuck. They struggle to understand what their relative is going through, and this can result in the family growing apart.
The key to giving support is understanding. Taking time to educate yourself about your loved one’s illness is truly what sets them on their path towards improving their quality of life.
Knowing the condition and understanding how it affects your loved one gives you a better grasp of how you can best support them.
Start by talking to your doctor and disability support provider, especially if they are undertaking specific clinical mental health services. It’s also crucial to communicate with the struggling family member in order to know how they are feeling and what useful support they need.
This won’t only help you evaluate the situation, but will also create a warmer and more compassionate environment that will make your loved one more comfortable.
2. Set functional and realistic goals.
While you want your loved one to get better and fully recover, the path to rehabilitation is a long and winding process.
Remember that a hospital stay or one session with a therapist won’t magically ‘cure’ them. Everyone’s path to recovery is different and a great way to approach this is to set goals that are realistic for them.
Make sure that you understand their aspirations, what things are important to them, and what they want to achieve, even if it’s as basic as having a full eight hours of sleep every day.
Some goals might be insignificant to healthy people, but for those struggling, it could be a momentous step toward healing.
3. Involve them in making decisions.
A battle that some people with mental illness often experience is the feeling of lack of control over their lives. Include the stigma and fear of judgment, and it can lead to social withdrawal and lowered self-esteem.
The decision doesn’t have to be huge. It can be as simple as deciding the shirt colour to wear for the day.
The same thing is true when a patient chooses to do something that might be too challenging for them. As a supportive family member, it’s crucial that you give them the chance, even if you feel it’s beyond their ability.
Mental illness can be debilitating, but it doesn’t have to hold people back from making healthy decisions. In fact, those who are encouraged to make decisions by themselves often do much better than those who don’t.
By encouraging them to decide on their own, you help give them a sense of accomplishment. They will feel like they’re more in control of their condition and not simply living in reaction to their illness. They’ll also gain the confidence they need for meaningful community participation.
4. Establish an empathetic environment.
Some families are not comfortable discussing mental health. This can be especially true for parents and carers of people with mental illness.
Mental illness in itself can be incredibly isolating, and an empathetic and compassionate environment can make a huge difference. Allow your loved one to be comfortable in opening up their struggles, and encourage them to ask for help. Assure them that they supported and understood all the time.
Make them feel that they are equal with the rest of the members of the family. Inspire them to contribute significant ideas. Make them feel heard so they’ll be confident to open up about their personal issues and concerns.
Similarly, it’s also crucial to set limits and boundaries as you would with the rest of the family, when it comes to unacceptable behaviours.
5. Celebrate success together.
A person with a mental illness can struggle on a daily basis, so if they are able to hurdle through the day, give them a pat on the back. Celebrate each accomplishment, no matter how small it may seem.
Unlike those who are physically ill, those with mental illness often cannot see their progress the same way as others can. This doesn’t only pose a challenge to the person, but their families and friends might also find it difficult to offer the appropriate support and assistance.
Offering praise is one of the simplest yet most effective things you can do when your loved one does something well or achieves a goal.
Tell them how proud you are of them when they complete a task they find challenging, or not missing their medications and therapy sessions for a month.
It also helps to make them feel that with the appropriate help, they can get better and lead a fulfilling life.
Being supportive, patient, and understanding is definitely a must to lead your loved one to recovery.
Remember that there are many different kinds of mental illnesses with varying degrees of severity. No matter what your loved one is battling through, be there to listen to them, understand their concerns, and understand their struggles. Offer support that responds to them on an individual level.