For anyone who suffers with mental illness, it can often be extremely challenging and isolating. This may make them feel lonely, helpless, confused and many other difficult emotions on top of things they already may be feeling.
As the loved one of someone suffering with mental illness, being in this position may also make you feel powerless when you desperately want to help – you may not know where to start. Sometimes, it really can be the smallest of actions that can count, however. Something as small as lending an ear to someone suffering with mental illness can be a huge help to someone struggling with mental health issues. Knowledge is power, and by knowing how you can help a loved one suffering with their mental health, you can make a huge difference. For more on this topic, check out Charlotte Underwood‘s Guest Blog on Supporting Someone with a Mental Health Relapse.
Your loved one may respond well to some things but not to others. Often, what may help one person may not necessarily be helpful when helping another person. Everyone has their own individual personalities, and as such how we respond to things can be vastly different – The same goes for how we deal with mental health.
This may make it harder to gauge how you can help your loved one, but it also may be an opening to initiate a conversation with them. Ask your loved one how you can best support them with their mental health. Sometimes all they may need is someone who will listen.
If your loved one has a diagnosed condition, it may help to research the condition to know the best ways to help your loved one in their unique situation. This does not replace professional help – you cannot expect to magically solve their mental illness, but it can help in understanding what your loved one is going through and knowing how to best support them.
You can even take this further by researching coping strategies for them. Whilst recovering from mental illness is a personal thing, your loved one’s illness may make them lack the motivation to seek strategies to help themselves. This is not always the case, but any extra help can be a huge asset.
If your loved one opens up to you about their mental health, recognise that this may have been a difficult thing for them to do. Whilst steps have been taken to destigmatise mental health, unfortunately it can still be seen as taboo, and as a result many may be hesitant to talk about their mental health. Not only that, but your loved one may feel additional difficulties in opening up to someone, so make sure you listen to what their saying. Many people may feel compelled to give advice, but this isn’t always helpful. Start by listening, it can go a long way.
Alongside this, asking them how they feel or how their day is going can be a good way to offer them support – it shows that you care. Starting a conversation about mental health is a great way to offer support.
As previously mentioned, it can often be isolating to be struggling with a mental illness. A great way to reduce this loneliness for the person is to know that they have someone there who will support them. This can make a massive difference for someone who’s struggling with loneliness and feels alone. Of course, whilst saying this it should also be noted that you should not expect this to instantaneously solve your loved one’s difficulties. You are not a magician. You can help, but don’t put pressure on yourself to make their struggles vanish, as often your loved one may need additional help from a professional.
Sometimes a loved one’s mental illness may need additional help from a psychologist. Don’t feel afraid to encourage your loved one to seek further help. Psychologists are equipped with the knowledge to help your loved one manage their emotions and mental health difficulties. A step further into this would be to research into resources available in your local area, and putting this forward to your loved one.
Your support and love can make all the difference in helping your loved one to recover. By knowing some simple ways in which you can help them, you are making a massive difference.