4 Ways to Help a Loved One with Mental Illness

Mental Illness affects millions of people every day. If someone you love is exhibiting signs of mental health struggles, it can be heartbreaking to watch, no matter how severe. So what can we do? Although I am not a professional, here are some suggestions based on my own experiences on how to be there for the ones you love dealing with mental Illness.

 

Listen Without Judgment:

Opening up to someone about mental health struggles takes a lot of courage, even when talking to someone you love and trust. So if someone you love is suffering and decides to open up to you, first and foremost, acknowledge how much it may have taken for them to talk about this. Second, It’s important to really listen, and not just hear what someone has to say. In addition, something that may seem “irrational” or an “easy fix” to you may not to them, so try not to judge what someone may be going through. Even if you can’t fully understand what someone is dealing with or why they’re feeling a certain way, simply listening without judgment can make a difference.

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How to Further the Conversation:

When talking to someone you love about his/her mental health, feel free to ask questions. Asking what they think might trigger certain feelings, or why they think they might be feeling a certain way can be a good way for both you and your loved one to understand what they’re going through. However, keep in mind that answers like “I don’t know” are perfectly valid, sometimes there isn’t a reason why and that’s okay.

 

Set Boundaries:

Good Listening can go a long way, but that doesn’t mean you can be someone’s therapist. Whether it’s a romantic, friendly, or familial relationship, it may come to a point where you need to set boundaries. At times this can be hard, especially when someone you love is hurting, but when you start to feel responsible for someone’s mental health, this can create problems for your own mental stability, and the relationship. We all want to be there for the ones we love, but it’s important to remember that you can’t fix something for someone. Mental health is just not that simple.

 

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How to Suggest Help:

So what do you do if someone you love is starting to rely solely on you for help? What do you do if you feel someone you love is only getting worse? Then it might be time to suggest some other options for them. It’s important to know that there are many options when it comes to dealing with mental health; there isn’t one right or wrong answer and it may take time for a person to find what works best for them. Understand that this process can be overwhelming and remember to not take it lightly. Offer to sit down with your loved one and explore options with them. However, with current stigmas that surround mental health in our society today, someone you love who is suffering may feel as though seeking therapy or other options will label them as “sick” or “broken”. Therefore it is important to be sensitive when suggesting professional help and to remind your loved one that mental health struggles are never something to be ashamed of, nor does it make someone less of a person. Lastly, remember to not be forceful. While it can be helpful to encourage or suggest outside help, at the end of the day the decision is up to the person who is suffering.*

 

*If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts or signs of self-harm, seek help from a professional or trusted adult or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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