Behavioral Health, Health Resources

Ten Compassionate Ways to Help Support a Loved One Struggling with Mental Health

  1. Educate Yourself: Begin by gaining a better understanding of their particular mental health condition. Knowing the symptoms and potential challenges can help you empathize and be more patient. It also equips you to respond effectively in moments of crisis.
  2. Listen Actively: When your loved one is ready to talk, be there to listen without judgment. Active listening involves making eye contact, nodding, and giving feedback when appropriate. Your support in this way can make them feel validated and less alone.
  3. Encourage Professional Help: Therapists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and other mental health professionals are trained to help people manage mental health problems. Encourage your loved one to seek professional help if they haven’t done so already. Offer to assist in the search for a suitable professional or to accompany them to appointments if they’d like.
  4. Maintain Regular Contact: Isolation can exacerbate mental health conditions. Regular phone calls, texts, or meetups can show your loved one that they’re not alone and that someone cares about their wellbeing.
  5. Promote Self-Care: Healthy eating, regular exercise, good sleep hygiene, and relaxation practices like meditation can have a positive impact on mental health. Gently encourage your loved one to incorporate self-care habits into their routine.
  6. Practice Patience: Recovery and improvement in mental health conditions can take time. Be patient with your loved one, recognizing that it’s a process and there might be setbacks along the way.
  7. Help Them Find Support Groups: It can be comforting and enlightening to connect with others who are going through similar struggles. Support groups, both in-person and online, can help provide this connection. Help them find a suitable group where they can share experiences and learn coping strategies.
  8. Avoid Blame and Minimizing Language: We recommend you avoid saying things like “snap out of it” or “it’s all in your head.” Such statements can belittle their struggle and make them feel misunderstood. Instead, we recommend you express your concern and assure them that it’s okay to seek help.
  9. Support their Treatment Plan: If your loved one is following a treatment plan from a healthcare professional, support them, for example, by reminding them of medication times, or by helping them maintain a routine that accommodates their therapy sessions.
  10. Take Care of Yourself: Helping a loved one with a mental health issue can be emotionally draining. It is also important to prioritize your own self-care and consider seeking support for yourself too. You should be better able to help your loved one if you are also taking care of your own mental health.

Remember, every individual’s mental health journey is unique. Be sensitive to your loved one’s specific needs and preferences. Even when things get challenging, keep in mind that your love, patience, and support can make help make a significant difference in their healing process.

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