By Laura Weyman, Travel Editor
First and foremost, it is important to educate yourself regarding what the person is going through. Research the illness your loved one has been diagnosed with, but also keep in mind that each individual’s experience is unique. Listen to them with an open mind and shed the belief that there is a possibility for them to simply “snap out of it”. Such opinions will only alienate the person. Mental health is such a complex matter, so it is crucial to be compassionate and listen, even if their point of view does not make much sense from your own perspective.
Be a Better Listener
Helping others through difficult times does not always mean we need to be proactive and find a solution to their problem. If someone you love is struggling with their mental health and is willing to open up about it, learn to simply listen. Do not shy away from asking them questions about how they are feeling and genuinely listen to their answers.
There is nothing more dehumanizing than others making you feel as if you are not equal while struggling with a mental illness. While it is great to be compassionate and understanding, enabling is not helpful. According to a PsychCentral article, it is therapeutic for patient’s to be held accountable for their behavior. For example, if a certain type of behavior would be regarded as inappropriate for everyone else in the family, the diagnosed person should be held at the same standards.
Speak with Others in Your Situation
Dealing with a family member or close friend struggling with mental health can feel hard at times. The person may start feeling heavily dependent on you or if they are struggling with severe depression or another mental illness, they could lose motivation to go out or complete the most basic tasks. The National Alliance on Mental Illness can help link you up with a support group, so you can meet others in your situation and learn about new ways to care for your loved one. For more information, visit: http://www.namisavannah.org/
Look Out for Suicidal Behavior
According to WebMD, 50% to 75% of those considering suicide show warning signs. Although not everyone threatening to commit suicide will follow through, every threat should be taken seriously. The top signs of suicidal behavior include excessive sadness or moodiness, hopelessness, sleeping problems and changes in personality or appearance.