Supporting your loved ones with their mental health

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Health Assured team

09 May 2022

In any given week, 1-in-6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety or depression). Because mental illness is such a prevalent issue, someone close to you is likely suffering from it.

How can you help those people you care about? Friends and family often play a vital role in protecting our mental health by fostering a sense of belonging and purpose. As a result, it is important you reach out and support the people you love.

 

How to know if someone has a mental health problem?

When it comes to mental health, most people’s primary source of support is their family. While some people may find it easy to seek help, others may find it challenging, especially when dealing with a stigmatised issue such as mental health.

Mental health problems are often invisible to the naked eye; making it difficult to recognise when someone is suffering. Here we’ll provide some of the common signs and symptoms associated with mental illness:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling consistently sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Intense feelings of guilt
  • Constant low energy
  • Excessive anger or hostility
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Ignoring personal hygiene

 

How can you help?

The health advantages of a loving relationship are vast and can have a significant impact on an individual’s wellbeing. If you recognise any of the above signs or symptoms, you must express your concerns in a warm and helpful manner, establishing a network of emotional support.

Although challenging, providing support is necessary for your loved ones to overcome their mental health problems. If you’re worried about someone you care about, or want to learn more about how to support those affected by mental illness, here are some of the best ways you can help:

 

Be patient

Due to the stigma surrounding mental health, those affected may feel overwhelmed or even embarrassed when you first express your concerns. It may take some time for them to speak up. So, wait patiently and let them know you’ll be there to support them, whenever they are ready.

 

Listen without making judgement

When discussing mental health with loved ones you should avoid passing judgement. If you criticise their decisions, they may become discouraged and refrain from seeking further support. If you remain objective and non-judgemental, they will be more likely to seek help in the future.

Open-ended questions such as ‘how have you been?’, ‘what can I do for you?’ and ‘when is the best time to check in on you again?’ are very effective as they allow the person to think and reflect, while also showing you care about them.

 

Provide reassurance

When facing mental health problems, reassurance is very important. It can help remove the fears and concerns associated with mental illness; serving as a gentle reminder to those struggling that they are not alone. By providing reassurance, you are letting them know they can get support if they need it – helping them feel less afraid and more comfortable.

 

Encourage treatment

There are many options available for treating mental illness. However, these treatments are often stigmatized. This should not be the case. According to an annual survey in the UK, over 1 million people sought mental health treatment: ranging from talking treatments (such as therapy) to medication. These findings show treatment is a common occurrence and those seeking professional support should not feel ashamed to do so. You can make your loved ones aware of the treatments and empower them to get treatment (if they feel ready).

Encouraging treatment can be a difficult subject to approach, as you do not want to alienate or aggravate those suffering. Many people with mental illness do not realise they are experiencing issues. Therefore, broaching the subject and encouraging treatment requires emotional sensitivity. By using non-stigmatizing language, you can reaffirm your support. This will let them know, that when the time comes, you will help through the therapy process.

 

Looking after yourself

Learning that someone you care about is suffering from mental illness can be distressing. It is crucial, that when helping your loved ones, you do not neglect your own wellbeing. Engaging in self-care has been proven to improve mental health; making it essential that you take time to rest, relax and do things you enjoy.

 

Health Assured are here to help and offer whatever support you need. If you would like any more information on how to support your loved ones, please get in touch through the helpline.

 

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