What can you do to help?
This week, The Washington Post released an article about Mental Health First Aid. It offered that while many people are trained in (or at least know of) using CPR when someone is in physical distress, few know how to help or even recognize potential mental health issues.
While knowledge about mental illness is not as widespread, mental disorders are quite prevalent, affecting one in five adults each year.
There is no single way to best help someone with a mental disorder, but these tips can help you to show your support and love.
1. Know about their disorder.
One of the best ways to help someone is to understand (as best you can) what they are going through. If you have a family member or friend with a diagnosed mental disorder, do some research. How does the disorder affect the way they feel, think, and behave? Maybe your friend with anxiety has difficulty initiating conversations. Learning about their disorder can help explain certain behaviors and indicate when they may need support.
If your friend has not been diagnosed, learn about the common warning signs of prevalent disorders. If you can identify such symptoms in your loved one, you can better help them to get the support and care they need.
2. Help them get treatment.
If your friend or family member has not been diagnosed, but displays feelings or behaviors of a mental illness, help them to get treatment. This may be as simple as recommending therapy or researching local facilities.
Provide them with your encouragement and support and volunteer to go with them if they are afraid. Some programs offer family sessions that allow loved ones to participate in therapy. However, even providing rides to treatment or getting lunch with them after can make a difference.
3. Check in with them.
Sometimes individuals with mental illness will be reluctant to reach out for help, but that does not mean that they do not need it. Send them a text or call to let them know that you’re thinking of them and ask how they are doing. Give your loved one the opportunity to express their feelings, whether positive or negative, and validate them.
Ask them about treatment and their progress. Show genuine interest in what they are doing and have learned.
4. Take care of you.
The best way that you can help someone is by helping yourself. Beyond the stress of being a good friend and caretaker to someone with mental illness, daily stressors can wear away at your own mental health. Make sure that you are taking care of yourself and getting the support you need.
Some communities offer caregiver support groups that not only provide skills and information to help you take care of your loved one, but also allow caregivers to lean on each other for help and guidance. Remember that even if you do not have the same needs as your friend or family member, your mental and emotional well-being is still important.
Adult Mental Health Services in NJ
GenPsych offers a variety of mental health programs for adults suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, and more. Our full range of therapeutic services is available to participants of both our Partial Care and Intensive Outpatient programs, and includes individual therapy, group therapy, medication counseling, ongoing family consultations, and substance abuse counseling. We offer skill groups using dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and relapse prevention. Our multi-disciplinary approach offers a comprehensive treatment planning system that will help you regain control of your life and succeed in your future goals.