How to Support Your Friends Who Struggle With Mental Illness
There is a saying, “If the suffering is hard, then seeing your loved ones suffer is harder.” Sometimes, you may see your friends or family suffer, and you want to help them. However, you may not know how to help them, especially when they are struggling with mental illness. At times, it can be confusing to know how to act or what to say.
Meeting your loved ones who are struggling with a mental health disorder with care and compassion is crucial. However, it is also important not to belittle their struggles or demean their hard work. Here are a few steps that can help you learn how to support your loved ones struggling with mental illness.
Create a Non-Judgmental Atmosphere
Many people struggling with a mental health disorder also struggle with handling the stigma surrounding mental illness. Words you think are encouraging and helpful can cause harm and send your loved one into a spiral of shame. As a result, their mental health can continue to decline.
However, you can work to create a non-judgmental atmosphere for your loved one. To do so, you can educate yourself on the mental health disorder they are struggling with and meet them with understanding and kindness. Allowing them the space to feel comfortable and at ease around you can help them open up and tell you how you can support them.
Practice Good Listening Skills
Do you know what the most helpful thing for a person who is fighting with their inner traumas is? Having someone who listens to them, with whom they can talk and share their feelings. At times, all you have to do to support your loved one struggling with a mental health disorder is be a good listener. Just listen to them without any input, and let them pour their feelings out in front of you.
If your friend who is dealing with a mental health disorder decides to talk about their feelings with you, ensure you do not cut them off with your feelings or examples, like “Yeah, I understand, even I had a panic attack when I saw my shopping bills. I know how you feel.” Statements like these might hurt your loved ones and lead them to believe you are not genuinely listening to what they have to say. Be careful with your words and listen.
Don’t Try to Second Guess Their Feelings
As a loved one, you may try to comfort your friends or family with sentiments like “You’re just overthinking” or “This feeling will pass.” While your intentions are most likely pure, these statements can cause harm. Using statements like these can lead your loved ones to believe you are belittling or ignoring their feelings, which may cause them not to seek help from you in the future.
Make sure that you never judge or second guess your loved one’s feelings. Try to appreciate what they are going through, and ensure them that it is okay not to be okay. What they are going through is normal for many people and can be helped with love, support, and professional help.
Go On a Walk With Them
Walking is a natural healer. A good walk can help you clear your mind and let you think about what matters in your life. A good walk with a loved one is counted as an effective medicine. Go out and take a walk, have a healthy conversation with them, talk about good memories, funny moments, your appreciation towards them, and appreciate the bond you share with them.
Be Normal With Them: Do Not Make Things Complex
You know your friend is struggling with their mental health, but you do not know how to act around them. It is okay; we all face things like this. When you do not know how to act around your loved one, just be normal. Do not change your behavior around them; just behave as you used to before.
Do not exclude your loved ones from gatherings, outings, or parties. Do not think that they will feel uncomfortable. Invite them and let them decide if they want to come or not. The reality is, you can best help your loved one by not making things complex and just acting normal.
Take Care of Yourself
One of the most important things you can do to help your loved one who is struggling with mental illness is to take care of yourself. To be able to care for the people you love, you must first take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself is a valid goal on its own, and it helps you support the people you love.
When you pay attention to your own physical and emotional health, you are better able to handle the challenges of supporting a loved one with a mental illness. Improving your relationship with yourself by maintaining your physical and mental health makes you more resilient, helping you weather hard times and enjoy the good ones as well.
It can be challenging to watch a loved one struggle with a mental health disorder. You may want to do everything you can to help, but are unsure how. Creating a non-judgmental atmosphere, practicing good listening skills, not second-guessing their feelings, getting outside, being normal, and taking care of yourself can all help you support your loved one through their challenges. If your loved one is struggling with a mental health disorder and is ready to seek help, Achieve Concierge is here to help. Achieve Concierge specializes in a holistic, collaborative approach to treating a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, substance use disorders, and more. Our Premier Members enjoy an array of special conveniences and services, which enhance the treatment experience, including same-day or next-day appointments, direct access to the doctors, extended appointment times, and more. For more information on how we can help your loved one, call us today at (858) 221-0344.