How Can I Help My Loved One With Mental Illness? 5 Therapist Approved Strategies To Help You Support Your Loved Ones.
Today is Bell Let’s Talk day, and mental health is at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds and conversations. We all are affected by mental illness in one way or another, so it is important to discuss ways that we can show our support and better understand mental illness!
When others in your life are struggling with their mental health, it can be difficult to know how to best support them. What do you say? What can you do? These are questions we all ask ourselves when we are wanting to help our loved ones get through a difficult time.
Mental health issues are particularly challenging. Since there are many misconceptions that exist in our society around mental illness, it can be difficult to understand what your loved one is going through, and what you can do to support them.
We want to help you help your loved ones! Below are 5 ways that you can support your family member with a mental illness.
1. Take a step towards your loved one.
Our natural tendency can be to pull away when times are tough, but these are the times that we need to be leaning in. Even if you don’t fully understand what your loved one is going through, expressing your support is incredibly helpful. When you worried about saying or doing the wrong thing, try to remind yourself that your just presence can help your loved one feel supported and less alone. If you don’t know what to say try: “I’m not sure what you need, but I’m here for you.”
2. Educate yourself on their mental illness.
The best way to know how you can support your loved one is to better understand what they are going through. There are many misconceptions about mental illness, and it is important that you educate yourself on the FACTS. Research their mental illness so that you know what struggles they are facing! When you understand what they are going through, you will feel more confident in your ability to support them. If you are not sure where to start, here is a great resource to check out!
3. Understand that they cannot just “snap out of it”.
It can be easy to think that there is a quick solution to mental illness, but the truth is there’s not. Getting better is a process of taking care of yourself, exercising, sleeping right, therapy, and sometimes medications. This process can be long, and its important you support your loved one throughout their entire process. Meet them where they are at, and find out how you can best help them. Also, remember that you may have to adapt your support to wherever they are at in their process. At times they may need a different level or form of support.
4. Encourage them to get the support they need.
Misconceptions of mental illness has created a large stigma in our society. As a result, many people do not feel comfortable or safe reaching out for the help that they need. If your loved one is struggling, let them know that they don’t have to suffer in silence! Remind them that they are not alone and that you support them. Most importantly, encourage them to speak to professionals about their struggles! There are treatments available that can help them, and mental health professionals can give them the support and resources they need to begin their journey of recovery. Learn more about how professionals can help here and here.
5. Care for yourself and keep an eye out for burnout.
Supporting your loved one through their mental health struggles can be difficult on you. When your focus is on your loved one, it can be easy to forget about yourself. After some time you may feel exhausted, helpless, and drained. Do not ignore these signs, as they may indicate that you are burning out! Take time for yourself and seek support from someone you trust. Remember that sometimes boundaries are needed, and it is okay to step back for your own health and wellbeing. In order to care for others, you must take care of yourself!
Take Home Message:
When your loved one is struggling with their mental health, it can be difficult to know how to support them. We want to help you help your loved ones!
We talked about these 5 ways that you can support your loved one with mental illness:
- Take a step towards them and meet them where they are at.
- Educate yourself on their mental illness.
- Understand that they cannot just “snap out of it”.
- Encourage them to get the support they need.
- Care for yourself and keep an eye out for burnout.