It can be very difficult to see a loved one struggle with symptoms of mental illness. Knowing how best to help and support them can also be very hard.
Everyone suffering with mental illness is different, but there are some common ways you might be able to help.
Recognize the Warning Signs
Signs that someone is struggling with a mental illness can be difficult to spot because they vary considerably. They might include:
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Problems functioning at school or work
- Withdrawal from social interactions
The reason for these changes could be something else, such as a general medical illness. Check with a medical professional and ask for advice on what changes are cause for concern.
Start the Conversation
Starting a conversation with the person you’re concerned about is possibly one of the hardest things to do. You don’t have to be an expert and you’re not going to have all the answers.
A good place to start is to express your concern and let them know that you’re reading to listen. It’s also important to let them know that you’re there for them.
Show patience and caring and avoid being judgemental. Listen to what they have to say and at the same time, encourage them to talk with a mental health practitioner.
Educate Yourself about Mental Health Conditions
The more you know about different mental health conditions, the more you’re able to offer informed suggestions. You’ll find plenty of real-life stories online. For example, All Things Hair has a feature written by a lady suffering with infertility issues and she has some useful tips and advice that might help.
Help Address Barriers
There may be potential barriers to your loved one seeking help. Try to anticipate these and help address them.
Seek Support for Yourself
You might be focused on helping a loved one, but don’t lose sight of yourself. It’s important that you take care of yourself both physically and emotionally.
Recovering from a mental health challenge is never a straightforward process. There will be ups and downs, setbacks and progress. Be there to offer your support and encouragement for their immediate crisis and the long run.