When a loved one is suffering from a mental illness, you suffer along with them. It’s difficult to watch them endure disruptive, debilitating symptoms. Most likely, you feel buried in emotions: sadness, anger, defeat. You feel powerless, but desperate for solutions. You want to help, but you don’t know how.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix. Helping someone navigate the challenges of a mental illness is never easy. But here are a few things you can do to provide support:
The most important thing you can do for your loved one – and for yourself – is to learn all you can about their disorder. Familiarize yourself with signs and symptoms, find out what to expect from treatments and relapses, and separate the fact from the fiction. The more you know about your loved one’s specific illness, the more you’ll understand how you can best be involved in their rehabilitation.
Open a dialogue
If you’re worried about your loved one, and want to encourage them to seek help, express your concerns calmly and without judgment. Offer empathy and listen to their answers with an open heart. Never place blame or belittle them; this will only cause them to shut down. Give them respect, and recognize their autonomy in seeking their own treatment.
Set realistic expectations
It can be difficult for someone to admit they have a mental illness – either because of stigma, or because they’re so lost in their disorder that they can’t recognize their own symptoms. If your loved one doesn’t respond to your concerns in a positive way, give them time. But let them know you’re there if they need you, and continue to be a source of encouragement in their lives.
You’ll be in the best position to help your loved one if you’re in a healthy state of mind. Don’t neglect your own emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. Seek out support groups for friends and families of people with mental illness; it will help to know you’re not alone. Also, to ensure your own safety and stability, set appropriate boundaries with your loved one. Only by taking care of yourself will you be able to properly take care of others.
Get involved in their treatment
Once your loved one seeks professional help, become an active participant in their course of treatment. Learn about their medications and routines, and encourage a healthy lifestyle. Where allowable, ask their doctors and therapists how you can best support their recovery, and help to keep them stable.
Recognize signs of distress
If you’re afraid that your loved one may be in immediate danger of harming themselves or others, consider it an emergency. Dial 911 or contact a medical professional right away, and get them to safety.
Contact Affinity Treatment Centers
Living with mental illness is manageable with proper diagnosis and care. The treatment your loved one receives at the outset can make all the difference in their long-term success. At Affinity Treatment Centers, we provide residential treatment programs for mental illness, a wide range of treatment modalities, individualized for each patient. And in addition to medication management, psychotherapy, and peer support, we offer family therapy to aid in recovery.
Call us today at (760) 917-1112 and speak to someone about our residential living and mental health support services.