Supporting Friend’s Struggling with Mental Illness
Mental illness continues to plague much of the nation, and unfortunately, many cases often go overlooked and undiagnosed. It can be hard to know how to support a friend who is struggling with mental illness, especially if it is not something you’ve personally experienced yourself. However, learning how to identify the signs of a mental health problem, how to effectively communicate with someone struggling with their mental health, and encouraging them to seek proper treatment is critical. In some cases, it can even be the difference between life and death.
Recognizing the Signs of a Mental Health Disorder
There are a variety of different types of mental health disorders. Some common examples include anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, and bipolar disorder. The way that each person exhibits symptoms of a mental health disorder is different. If you think your loved one may be struggling with their mental health, there are some common signs you can look out for. They include:
- Changes in eating habits
- Trouble keeping up with personal or professional obligations
- Decreased performance at work or school
- Withdrawing from friends or family
- No longer participating in or enjoying one’s hobbies
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Inability to keep up with one’s personal hygiene
- Engaging in excessive drug or alcohol use
- Seeming chronically tired or lacking energy
- Exhibiting sudden mood changes
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Changes in sex drive
- Trouble coping with stress
If your loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, they may have a mental health problem and need professional treatment.
Learning How to Talk to Someone With a Mental Illness
It’s very important to know how to properly talk to someone with a mental health disorder because saying the wrong thing or taking the wrong tone can not only discourage them from seeking treatment but may even make their condition worse. The most important thing to remember when confronting your loved one is to make it clear that you’re coming from a place of love and compassion, not judgment. The following are some examples of good ways to open up the conversation:
- I care about you and want to make sure you’re okay. Are you comfortable talking to me about what you’re going through?
- I am here and want to listen. Can you tell me how you are feeling?
- What can I do to help you during this time?
- It seems like you are going through a difficult time, and I’m worried about you. I am here for you if you need me.
- What can I do to help you get the assistance you need?
- Are you open to getting some resources that can help you through this time?
- I’m worried about your safety. Have you considered doing anything to hurt yourself or someone else?
It’s important to only approach the individual about their mental health status while they are in a safe, private environment and only when they feel comfortable discussing it. It’s also important to be straightforward and speak calmly. If the individual isn’t yet comfortable discussing their mental health, do not pressure them to open up, but revisit the topic at a different time.
Additional Ways to Support Someone With a Mental Illness
After you’ve approached your loved one about their mental illness and encouraged them to seek treatment, there are some additional steps you can take to support them and show them that you care. Some examples include:
- Telling them that they are free to open up to you as much or as little as they want
- Reminding them that there is help available for them if they want it
- Offering to help out with household tasks or other things they may be struggling to keep up with
- Express empathy and treat the individual with dignity and respect
- Speak with other people that are close to the individual and make sure they are aware that their loved one is struggling
- Invite the individual to social functions to ensure they don’t feel lonely or isolated from those that care about them
- Remind the individual that you are not judging them and do not think any differently about them because of what they are going through
In some severe situations, a person who is struggling with a mental health problem may show signs that they are considering taking their own life. If you believe your loved one is suicidal, it is important to not leave their side and call 911 right away. They can be taken to the hospital and placed under 24/7 medical supervision to ensure that they don’t do anything to hurt themselves or anyone else.
Watching a friend struggle with a mental health disorder can be very painful, especially if the individual is not seeking out the help they need. Because mental illness is such a serious issue, it is important to be able to recognize the symptoms of it, understand how to discuss it with the individual, and how to encourage them to seek treatment. When approaching someone about their mental illness, it is important to come from a place of non-judgment and to ensure that the person knows that you care about them and have compassion for them. You can also support your loved one in other ways, such as inviting them to social functions and offering to help out with tasks they may be behind on. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder, our team at Achieve Concierge can help. Call (858) 221-0344 today to learn more about our services.
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