When a friend or family member has a mental health condition, it can be daunting for everyone involved — parents, siblings, friends, and other relatives. Being willing to come together as a concerned group, recognize the diagnosis, and seek appropriate help will make recovery more likely. Disapproval and denial only worsen the circumstances, and your loved one will be less likely to seek mental health treatment. Learning how to talk to a loved one about mental health is essential.
Learn How to Talk to a Loved One About Mental Health
Love and support from family and friends is a vital element to getting your loved one the proper mental health services. This support helps mitigate the indignities and stigma that mental illness can have on an individual. In extreme cases, it may even help save a loved one’s life. Mental health professionals know the challenges and consequences that happen when relatives, parents, and friends refuse to recognize the illness or isolate the person who is struggling.
When a person is first diagnosed with a mental illness, they need their network to offer unconditional acceptance and love even while setting some appropriate boundaries. If your loved one is struggling with a mental health condition, you should know they remember and appreciate your kindnesses, even if they aren’t able to say so.
Tips for Supporting a Loved One With a Mental Illness
There are several ways you can support your loved one if they are struggling with a mental health condition. Some ways you can show support include:
1. Become educated as much as possible about the specific diagnosis
Seek out facts rather than myths. Your local mental health associations are excellent mental health resources for information about the illness and the recovery route than often unfolds. There also are community support services that help you find others in similar situations. What you should seek out is practical suggestions on how to talk to a loved one about mental health care. This can be challenging because someone with a mental health condition may not believe they are sick. Many people who struggle with mental health disorders do not even realize it. By educating yourself as much as possible, you can potentially provide insight that your loved one does not know.
2. Avoid debates and use active listening
If your loved one denies that he or she has an illness, debating or trying to convince them will worsen the recovery process. Listen carefully to the individual. Treat them with dignity and loving-kindness. You won’t be able to change their minds, so forgo any power struggle. Instead, work to build trust and rapport, and they will be more likely to accept mental health care.
3. In extreme cases, seek immediate professional help
If you harbor concerns that your loved one is experiencing acute psychiatric distress, such as having suicidal ideation or experiencing psychosis, getting immediate professional help is the wisest choice.
4. Ask the individual how they are feeling
Listen carefully. Not every individual with a mental illness can express their wants clearly. Ask how you can support them. You will demonstrate a caring attitude, which affirms their dignity. It makes room for self-awareness and empowerment to begin to grow. If the requests are possible, consider taking on what you can handle. Once the dialogue starts, keep it going. Your loved one will have shifting needs as recovery progresses.
5. Seek Out Professional Support for Yourself
You will feel the stress of dealing with a loved one who has a mental health condition. Your entire family will likely benefit from counseling or a support group. Your loved one may experience swings like severe mania, depression, or anxiety. Anger and worry are healthy to feel. How you handle those emotions will make a big difference in your peace of mind and the ability to respond appropriately. A professional counselor will be able to give you practical, actionable steps on dealing with frustration without upsetting your loved one.
A qualified therapist can provide objectivity, clarity, and solutions that may allude you. You will have a safe place to express your own deep emotions that arise from challenging situations. When you are healthier, you are better able to handle those difficult situations.
Contact Rose Hill Center Today
If your loved one is struggling with their mental health, do not be afraid to speak up and reach out for help. At Rose Hill, we treat a variety of mental health issues, including: