Mental illness does not only affect those who have it. It can also overwhelm their loved ones or support people. In this article Healing Path Counselling Services will highlight some suggestions on how to support someone who has a mental illness.
If you want to help your loved one who is struggling with their mental health, there are various strategies you can take:
In order to help you to feel confident and have a better understanding of the person’s illness, you can do the following:
* Read books, papers or articles on the matter
* Watch shows about the subject
* Attend conferences or training sessions
* Attend support groups for the caregivers/support and/or attend support groups with the person who may be struggling with a mental illness
Develop a helpful approach towards the person who has a mental illness
Several approaches can help you establish or maintain a good relationship with the person, for example:
* Acknowledge that you may never entirely understand what they are experiencing. Avoid preaching to them and dictating what you would do in their place.
* Congratulate them on the positive changes they make such as, changes in attitude and behaviour.
* Be patient. Remember that sometimes, the road to recovery can be long and difficult.
Say what you think positively.
When you want to say what you think to someone who may be struggling with their mental health, let your personal feelings guide you in expressing your opinions and reactions. Use the first person rather than the second in speaking to them – this helps to facilitate good communication. In this way, the person is less likely to deny or be defensive. For example, you can say, “I am worried about how you are always locking yourself up in your room and that you barely eat. I am sad about what is happening.” This is more effective than, “You barely eat, and you are always in your room. What do you think is happening to you?”
Encourage the person suffering to seek professional help when necessary.
Someone with mental illness can experience periods of instability on their way to recovery. When necessary, encourage them to seek individual counselling services, support groups or mental health organisations and associations for information, help and support. If the person declines, be patient and keep listening in order to understand their reasoning. Continue encouraging them. Offer to go with them as that could help in making up their mind. There may be circumstances where you feel your loved one is in crisis – if there is a fear of harm – contact your local crisis and/or emergency response team.
If you or someone you know could benefit from individual counselling services, please reach out to Healing Path Counselling Services.
Join us next week when Healing Path Counselling Services discusses the second series – taking care of yourself when caring for someone who has a mental illness.