Mental illness can be a challenging experience for both the individual who is coping and their loved ones. It can be difficult to know how to offer support, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed or unsure of what to do.
The broad spectrum of mental illness can make it difficult to generalise how to support a loved one, but some key points can be helpful for most situations. In this article, we will outline some tips on how to support a loved one with mental illness so that you can help them to get the support they need.
Tips on How to Support Someone With Mental Illness
1. Learn about it.
The more you know about mental illness, the better equipped you will be to support your loved one. There are many helpful resources available online and in libraries. You can also talk with mental health professionals to better understand this illness.
Be aware of the signs and symptoms, so you can seek help if needed. You can also monitor your loved one’s well-being by checking in on them regularly and looking for changes in mood, behaviour, or appearance.
Another accessible way to learn about mental illness is to join webinars and online support groups which focus on mental health topics. You can find these groups on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can search these groups by using a hashtag, such as #mentalhealthawareness, or by looking for a group that is specific to your loved one’s illness.
2. Talk to your loved ones about their mental illness.
Mental illness can be a very isolating experience, and many people with mental illness feel ashamed or embarrassed about their condition. Talking openly and honestly with your loved ones can help them feel less alone and more supported. It is also essential to listen to them without judgement.
With this in mind, it is also important to be respectful of your loved one’s privacy. Do not share information about their mental illness with other people without their permission.
3. Offer practical support.
Most people with mental illness need practical support to help them manage their condition. This might include helping them with tasks such as grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning. You can also accompany them if they want to exercise outdoors or attend social events.
Practical support can also include providing transportation or helping them to get to appointments to clinical mental health services. This type of support can be beneficial in reducing stress and allowing your loved ones to focus on their mental health.
4. Offer emotional support.
One of the most important things you can do for your loved one is to offer emotional support. This might include listening to them without judgement, providing encouragement, and showing compassion. It is also essential to be there for your loved one in difficult times.
Emotional support can be especially helpful when your loved one is feeling overwhelmed or stressed. It can also help them to feel connected to you and reduce feelings of isolation.
5. Take care of yourself as well.
Supporting a loved one with a mental illness can be very stressful. It is essential to take care of yourself as well. This might include going for walks, practising meditation or mindfulness, and spending time with friends and family.
It is also important to remember that you cannot do it alone. Ask for help from friends, family, and communities when you need it. Keep in mind that you also need time to keep your mental health in check.
6. Seek professional help if needed.
If you feel overwhelmed or out of your depth, it is crucial to seek professional help. Many resources are available to both you and your loved one, and professional help can be a great way to get support.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can cover funding for a Psychosocial Recovery Coach for individuals who are highly impacted by long-term mental illness. These coaches support individuals and their carers to help them manage their mental illness, set goals and work towards these goals. The goal is not only physical but also emotional rehabilitation – making these people feel better in every way imaginable.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to supporting a loved one with mental illness, but following these tips can be helpful. Remember to be patient, understanding, and supportive – your loved one will appreciate it more than you can imagine.
It is highly beneficial to reach out to clinical mental health services to support you or your loved one. Professional support can help provide individual strategies to cope with everyday struggles through various individualised approaches.