Watching a loved one struggle with mental illness is difficult and painful. Figuring out how to help can lead to feelings of frustration, confusion, anger, fear, guilt, and worry, particularly if your loved one is in denial or refuses your help. Mental health disorders affect millions of people throughout the world. It is estimated that one in five Americans lives with mental illness, meaning that every one of us has at least one friend or family member with a mental health disorder.
There are many barriers to seeking help for mental illness. Despite efforts to raise awareness about mental health, there remains a stigma that prevents many from seeking support. Harmony Hills is a mental health treatment center committed to providing state-of-the-art, effective, whole health treatment to individuals and families impacted by mental health disorders. Contact our team at 855.494.0357 to learn ways you can help a person with mental illness.
Tips for Supporting a Person with Mental Illness
Anyone can experience mental health issues at any point in time. Like any other health issue, individuals with mental illness need love, support, and treatment. If you suspect a friend or family member is struggling with mental illness, talking with them provides an opportunity to offer support, information, and guidance and clarify your understanding of the situation.
The first step in supporting a person with mental illness is to educate yourself so you can learn to recognize the common signs and symptoms of mental illness and be able to approach the conversation with understanding, compassion, and resources. Once you have armed yourself with information, consider the following tips:
- Choose an appropriate time and place when the person is not experiencing severe symptoms, and you won’t be interrupted or distracted.
- Express your concern and support.
- Find out whether or not the person is receiving any help, and offer resources if not.
- Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements.
- Be straightforward but in a calm and relaxed manner.
- Demonstrate compassion, respect, and empathy through active and reflective listening.
- Ask appropriate questions but do not pry.
- Encourage them to talk openly but do not pressure them or force the conversation.
- Try to find common ground without making the conversation about yourself.
Accepting that the person you are concerned about might not want to engage in conversation or welcome your help right away is essential. In this case, reassure them that you will be available when they are ready. Avoid becoming angry, judgmental, or critical, which may make them withdraw. Avoid ultimatums unless the person is in immediate danger of harming themselves or others, in which case you should call 911.
Recognizing When You Should Help a Person with Mental Illness
Everyone faces challenges and goes through difficult times. Periodic episodes of sadness, worry, anger, confusion, or elation that last for a few days are expected. However, if these periods last for several weeks or longer and interfere with a person’s functioning, it could be a sign of mental illness. Many people wonder how to know when they should help.
Different mental health conditions have different symptoms. Further, how a particular mental illness impacts a person is unique to them. However, some general signs and symptoms of mental illness commonly indicate that a person is struggling with an underlying mental health disorder, such as:
- Significant changes in sleep patterns, including sleeping too much or too little
- Changes in appetite, including overeating or undereating
- Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
- Missing more and more time from work or school
- Using drugs or alcohol to cope with stress and emotions
- Avoiding close friends and family members
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Persistently worried or anxious
- Seeming sad, angry, or irritable most of the time
- Rapid or extreme mood swings
Support from friends and family is essential for helping a person with mental illness. Family and friends can be influential advocates for assisting a person in finding adequate treatment and adhering to a prescribed treatment plan.
Learn More About Getting Help for a Person with Mental Illness at Harmony Hills
The journey to achieving mental wellness is unique to each individual. For many, a mental health treatment center is essential to healing and growth. At Harmony Hills, we proudly offer an extensive array of evidence-based, holistic therapies to ensure effective treatment for various mental health disorders. Contact us at 855.494.0357 to learn more about getting help for a person with mental illness.