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Becoming Aware: How to Help Someone with a Mental Health Disorder

"Becoming Aware: How to Help Someone with a Mental Illness" JourneyPure graphic

I wish there was something I could do to help.

Trying to help a family member or friend with a mental illness is intimidating. It’s difficult to know what to say or how you can offer support. Because family support is at the core of recovery, it’s critical to know how you can help a loved one suffering from depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, panic attacks or any other mental illness.

When it comes to psychological disorders, knowledge is power and understanding.

The more you know about mental health, the better equipped you’ll be to recognize signs of mental disorders and connect your loved one to professional help. The sooner your loved one receives counseling, therapy, and medication, the sooner he or she can begin a journey to recovery.

  • Know what to say. Or better yet, know what not to say. Because someone with a mental health issue is not in a healthy state of mind, insensitive words can become hurtful, even if you meant to be helpful. You might think your words are neutral, but someone in a vulnerable place might misconstrue them as cruel. It can be difficult to find the right comments to make, so think twice before you speak. This is why it’s so critical to seek professional therapy and care.
  • Be involved during treatment. If your loved one is being treated for a dual diagnosis in an addiction rehab facility, it’s important that you stay connected.Family counseling will help you understand the current situation while showing your loved one that you care. Ask the counselors and treatment team how you can help and stay involved.
  • Establish equality. Just because someone needs help, it does not mean that you are stronger or a better person. By establishing equality, you minimize feelings of shame, guilt or resentment. Remember, people with mental illnesses aren’t different from anyone else – they’re normal people who suffer from a serious brain disease just like people suffer from diabetes or heart disease.
  • Recognize courage. In today’s culture, many people look down on psychological issues. It’s important for you to counter these negative attitudes and recognize your loved one’s courage for seeking treatment. Be sure to stay calm, convey hope and show support during every stage of recovery.
  • Take care of yourself. Even caregivers need help. Make sure that you’re in a healthy state of mind. After all, you can only give back when you yourself are in a healthy place. Keep tabs on your physical, emotional and spiritual health as you support your loved one during this process.

Treating a mental disorder is never easy, but you can make it better by recognizing the signs of mental health problems and connecting your loved one to professional help.

At Voyage, our counselors and therapists have years of experience helping loved ones and their families work through co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders.

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