According to research, one in five people experience a mental health condition in their lives, a clear indication of how prevalent mental illnesses are. These conditions result from various genetic and environmental factors and can have adverse effects on the affected individual. Like any other illness, showing support and care to people with a mental health condition can go a long way in making the condition bearable.
If you are worried that a friend or relative is going through a mental health concern, it is important to talk to them as soon as you notice it. Talking to them is the best way to find out what is troubling them and what you can do to help.
Here are tips on how to talk about mental health to a loved one:
Listen Carefully to What They Tell You
Paying attention to what they say can help to show that you understand and empathize with their concerns. A good way to show that you are actively listening to them include:
- Put everything aside and concentrate on the person talking
- Repeat what they say to show you are following the conversation
- Ask open-ended questions to get more details
- Summarize the conversation to ensure you understand everything
Note that you don't have to agree with everything they say, but be sure to show you understand them fully and respect their feelings.
Let Them Share as Much or as Little as Possible
Talking about mental illness takes a lot of courage and trust. So, if a person offers to open up to you about their experiences, let them talk without any interruptions. Also, don't look like you are pressuring them to talk more than they feel like. This can make them feel as if you are forcing them to talk more than they want, which can make them withhold what they intended to share.
In other words, let a person who chooses to open up lead the discussion. You might even be the first person they feel comfortable talking to, a reason to provide a conducive environment for them to share their feelings.
While sharing your experiences about a similar situation you went through is okay, be careful with how you share it because, if not done right, it can make someone feel as if their pain is not valid. The whole reason the individual came to you is that they thought you were the right person to handle their pain. So, avoid creating the impression that you have or know people who have gone through worse; instead, strive to show empathy by not comparing their issues with others.
Talk about Wellbeing
A person dealing with a mental condition can benefit greatly from adopting practices that promote wellbeing. You can talk about ways they can practice self-care to alleviate the situation they are going through. Some strategies that can prove helpful include but are not limited to exercising, getting a good night's sleep, having a healthy diet, and generally focusing on a healthy lifestyle. Focusing on wellbeing can help keep their physical and mental health in check.
To show your support to someone experiencing mental health issues, it is advisable to keep your biases and opinions aside. Even if you feel the person is solely responsible for their own troubles, focus more on offering support and care instead of judging them. In any case, you never know what led them to their current situation or even understand what they feel at the moment, so judging them may even exacerbate their problems.
Help Them in Seeking Professional Help
If you notice that the situation is worsening over time, you may need to consider professional help as soon as possible. Encourage them to see a mental health expert for further diagnosis to help prevent the condition from taking a toll on them. Fortunately, mental health conditions are treatable, and your loved one can receive the necessary professional help to ensure they feel whole again.
Talking about mental health is the first step to helping someone deal with a mental condition. Through the support of family and friends, your loved ones will no doubt overcome their challenges to live a normal and productive life.
If you or your loved one is dealing with a mental health concern, our professionals at Butler Hospital are here to help. Contact us for more on our services and how we can help.