Poor mental health has plagued countless individuals worldwide. Though the preservation of mental health should be a priority, the concept of mental illnesses is not well perceived in our society. Often, it is swept under the rug, where it collects dust over time and worsens progressively. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and eating disorders, alongside numerous other diseases, fall under the vast category of mental illnesses.
While there is a certain way to make sure you don’t make things worse, there’s also a certain way to make sure you serve as a source of constant aid and comfort. Here’s what you can do for a loved one who’s trying to survive their mental illness:
Read up on the subject
There is a ton of literature out there on mental health and it’s importance. Know what you’re about to get into and keep yourself updated to be helpful.
Be a good listener
Sometimes, all a person needs is someone to vent to. Be that listener. Make it all about them instead of yourself. Allow them to rant.
Be someone they can open up to at any given time
The worst thing you can do is shut someone with poor mental health out of your life. Let your loved one know that they can open up to you, without the fear of judgment or abandonment. Build the level of comfort to a point where you can be one of the people they can turn to.
Reassure them that they are not alone
One of the worst feelings in life for pretty much anyone is loneliness. Isolation and recluse may seem ideal, but often play a huge part in becoming someone’s undoing. Assure your loved one that they are not alone. Let them know you have their back.
Urge them to seek support
While it is not a widely accepted concept to seek medical assistance for mental illnesses (or even acknowledge their existence, for that matter), we need to realize that professionals exist in these fields for a reason. This must be treated like any other illness. Urge your loved one to seek professional aid. It is what will help the most. They will, of course, have to be careful of quacks looking for an opportunity to make easy money.
Offer to go with the person to the doctor or health professional
If someone is hesitant to seek professional help, offer to go with them. Be a constant pillar of support – mentally and physically.
Have them track any medication intake
If the doctor prescribes any medication, make sure that you keep a track of the intake and encourage your loved one to do the same. This is to ensure that the proper dosage is being taken at the proper time. Negligence and addiction will only add to the problem.
Chalk out their goals with them as constant reminder to not give up
When one is flung into the abyss of poor mental health, it becomes easy to imagine that all goals and ambitions are an unnecessary pipe dream. Remind your loved one that they have a lot to live for. Chalk out long term plans with them that they can work toward. If they can’t think of any, chalk out the week’s routine or maybe something as insignificant as what they plan on getting done that particular day. Make sure that they have something to look forward to all the time.
Encourage them to start keeping a journal
Writing down every thought and feeling can help your loved one greatly. Not only does it allow for reflection and retrospection, they can also pen down things they would not otherwise say out loud. Journals can also be used to pen down daily tasks in order to be more organized, which can actually help in reducing stress levels.
Exercise releases endorphins that ease depression. It also reduces the release of immune system chemicals that worsen depression. Above all, it serves as a distraction from dark thoughts that ends up having a positive effect on your body.
Make them laugh
While this may not seem significant, giving someone a reason to laugh, and reminding them that life might not be that bad, never really hurt anyone.
Give them space
Sometimes, a person needs to be alone to sort their mind out. Be patient and give them that space.
But don’t give up on them
Undoubtedly, watching a loved one suffer from a mental illness and helping them through that suffering is not easy. It requires an incredible amount of patience and tolerance. Above all, it calls for an unparalleled amount of hope. Don’t give up, no matter how hard it gets. It isn’t about you.
Remember, it’s a lot harder for your loved one. Be there. Stick it out. Keep hoping.
Cover image via: thedoctorweighsin.com