5 Ways to Help Someone Struggling With Mental Illness
Research shows that approximately 1 in 5 adults suffers from a mental health disorder, and only 44% of those individuals seek some form of treatment.¹ With this being the case, there is a great chance you know someone who is currently struggling with a mental health disorder of some kind.
Taking the time to acknowledge and talk about the daily battle a friend or family member is having with mental illness is a great way to create a safe space. It allows them to open up about what they are going through and reminds them that they don’t have to fight alone. The more we continue to have these conversations about mental health in our everyday lives, the more we will eradicate the stigma that surrounds mental health and develop a healthier approach to treating and caring for mental health disorders.
Here are 5 ways you can help someone struggling with mental illness.
1.) Recognize that mental illness is unique to each individual.
There are a wide variety of mental health disorders. Some are mild while others are severe, and they affect people in different ways. Treatments that work for one person may not necessarily work for another, so be patient. Take the time to understand your loved one’s individual situation, which is often as simple as having an open, honest conversation. It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable; just let them know you care about them and you’re available to support them.
2.) Remind them that they are not their diagnosis.
Anyone who has lived with a mental health disorder knows that they can feel isolating and all-consuming. There is still a negative stigma of shame surrounding mental illness in our society, and that makes things even more difficult. Take the time to remind them that they are more than their diagnosis without minimizing the seriousness of their condition. Letting them know that you accept them for who they are is a great way to show your support
3.) Show compassion. You don’t have to “understand” what they are going through to be there for them.
You don’t need to have personal experience with a mental health disorder to be a sounding board for someone who does. You also don’t need to feel as though you need to solve all of their problems. Sometimes the best way to show that you are there for them is to listen to them without judgement, and to show compassion for what they are going through.
4.) Let them know that treatment is available. They don’t have to suffer in silence.
So often people don’t seek professional treatment for mental health disorders for a variety of reasons. Sometimes all it takes is the support of someone who cares about them to remind them of the resources and treatment options that are available to them.
5.) Take care of your mental health.
While supporting someone with a mental health disorder is important, you also want to make sure that you are taking the time to care for your own physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It is easy to get caught up in the lives of others, but you need to remember that your own self-care is crucial to how good you can be for others.
- Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults, National Institute of Mental Health, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-mental-illness-ami-among-us-adults.shtml