As opposed to some other types of illnesses, mental disorders are always challenging, to say the least. Dealing with the physical signs of an illness is pretty straightforward in the sense that there are prescribed medications or therapy, while it’s usually hard to determine how and when you are making progress with mental issues. Still, we are going to try to do just that, by telling you how you can help any loved ones you know who are currently struggling with mental illness.
Recognise The Early Signs
First of all, it’s very important to recognise the first signs of an illness, unless you already know what condition your family member or friend is suffering from. This is not an easy feat, since many of the occurrences may simply be a phase in someone’s behaviour. Nevertheless, should you have any doubts about their mental state, it’s important you start paying close attention.
For instance, if you see them losing interest in their favourite pastime, getting tired easily or frequently losing their appetite, they could be suffering from depression. On the other hand, anxious people are prone to avoiding certain situations, are easily irritated and generally appear pale and tense. Either way, when you notice something strange in their behaviour, you should be wary of whether it’s just a random phase, or if it has become commonplace.
Don’t Wait – Talk!
Despite the fact that you shouldn’t jump to conclusions about confirming mental issues, you mustn’t wait too long to give a helping hand either. Approach them, but don’t do it while they’re in the middle of doing something else. Plan the conversation, and set aside some special time when both of you can have a meaningful conversation, without any external distractions.
Also, instead of guessing and suggesting how they might be feeling, let them tell you on their own. Don’t draw conclusions too soon. Make sure that you ask them what they would like to do as this will make them feel more comfortable. Their answers should give you a clearer picture.
Naturally, this is not an easy task at all, even when you know what your beloved one is battling with. For this reason, try to be informed as much as possible. There is plenty of information available through books, blogs, and it goes without saying that you should always consult with a professional. Alternatively, you could also consider getting further educated on the subject by signing up for an online course that deals with mental health to help be even better prepared for tough situations, or perhaps even a potential career change.
Regardless of whether or not the illness has been diagnosed or not, every person should try to be fit and healthy since it contributes immensely to our mental wellbeing. Should you feel uncomfortable or too inexperienced to talk about their mental issues, the least you can do is to enquire whether they have a healthy lifestyle. That implies a healthy diet, spending enough time in nature and having regular exercise. Of course, setting an example or doing the activities together is much better than plain advice.
Work With The Team
Sometimes it may feel as though the whole burden rests on your shoulders, but it needn’t be the case. Cooperate closely with the experts, i.e. counsellors, social workers or any doctors treating your friend. They will be grateful that the patient has someone willing to help them, as you can greatly contribute to the healing process if you follow their instructions closely.
Unfortunately, certain conditions are beyond your help and cannot be treated without the direct help of medical staff. Nobody likes hospitals, let alone being admitted to a psychiatric institution, so it’s only natural that you may feel rather uneasy about it. Nevertheless, when we’re talking about mental disorders, it’s much better to be safe than sorry. It can mean the difference between life and death, not only for the patient, but for anyone in their immediate environment as well.
Be Very Patient
Hardly any mental illness has been developed in an instant, but they are rather a result of a state which took years to develop. Therefore, the healing process cannot be immediate either. Provide encouragement and support, and keep reminding yourself and others that complete recovery takes time. After all, no one would expect a broken arm to heal in a week, and mental issues are no different.
Take Care Of Yourself
At this grave moment, you may be so focused on helping others that you forget to take care of yourself, too. Bear in mind that you also need love and support, as well as a healthy routine and enough sleep. Only if we feel good are we able to help others feel that way, too.
Finally, it would be your task to persuade them that it is perfectly possible for them to live a better and healthier life. Believe in your abilities and theirs, act accordingly, and positive outcomes will be inevitable.
Theodora is a passionate blogger from Sydney and she is someone you would call an IT nerd. Also, she takes great interest in psychology and helping people deal with their mental and anxiety issues. Besides that, she loves martial arts and enjoying nature. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter