Support is in the Simplicities
A mental illness diagnosis can often times feel scary. Being able to put a name to their feelings may be a huge sigh of relief for your loved one, but it may cause a feeling of worry for us. Worrying about a friend, family member, or spouse with a mental illness diagnosis is to be expected. It's tough to try to balance showing support without coming off as overbearing or causing your loved one to feel incapable.
It's important to educate yourself on their illness and encourage them to seek professional support. It's also just as important to show your support through simple, everyday tasks that may seem insignificant, but in reality, mean so much. One of the best things you can do is treat them with respect. Reassure them that their diagnosis does not define who they are and that you love them. It's incredible what a simple "I love you" or "I am here" can do for someone who is not feeling emotionally well.
Here are a few tips that show support for a loved one suffering from mental illness:
- A person's outward surroundings can sometimes mimic the chaos they are feeling inside and cleaning can seem like a huge feat. Cleaning for them can help clear their minds and their to-do list.
- Pick up their medication from the pharmacy and complete other small errands that will make their life easier.
- Personal hygiene can become a chore and seem impossible in tough times. Refrain from commenting if they haven't showered in a few days because they can't get out of bed. If they are already feeling bad, these comments could embarrass them or make them feel worse.
- Sometimes encouragement is more harmful than helpful. Avoid saying things like "just smile and be happy," "get up and get going, you'll feel better," or "try harder". Understand that sometimes, what your loved one needs most in that moment is support and not advice on what you think may help.
- When your loved one is feeling better, come up with a plan so you have clear advice and direction on what they need when feeling low. Things such as an Advance Psychiatric Directive will help in times of crisis.
- Remember that your mental health is also important. If you are at a loss on what to do there is a program called Intensive Family Support Services. This program offers 1:1 support, and strong family connections with others that struggle keeping their loved one mentally healthy.
To battle stigma we need to remember that our overall health includes mental health.
Mental wellness is what we all strive for and helping others reach their goal of mental wellness can be often times challenging. Mental illness support is so important. Understanding a loved one's mental illnesses is one of the first lines of defense to ensure that they are supported. Talking with them about some tips or ideas on how we can be supportive will give us tools to give them back their mental wellness.
If you or a loved one is suffering from mental illness, clinicians in our Counseling & Wellness Centers are here to help.
Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 x9500) for more information or to schedule an appointment.