Talking to a Loved One About Mental Illness: Learning about a friend or loved one’s diagnosis of a mental illness can be a tough pill to swallow. However, it is important to show that person that you are there for them, as your support can be beneficial to their treatment. Here are some tips on how to talk to a loved one about their mental illness:
Talking to a Loved One About Mental Illness Step #1: INFORM YOURSELF
Taking the time to learn about the mental illness your loved one is facing is a great step in understanding what they are going through. Visit your nearby library or speak with a representative from a local mental health association to better understand the symptoms and challenges your loved one is facing. Also, join one of our many support groups to talk to others who share similar experiences with you.
Talking to a Loved One About Mental Illness Step #2: LISTEN
Let your loved one know that you have time to talk and are eager to learn more about what they are going through. However, do not make them feel pressured to share more than they feel comfortable. Letting them speak their mind is a great practice that will allow them to better assess the challenges they are facing and will let them know that you are someone they can trust.
Talking to a Loved One About Mental Illness Step #3: OFFER ADVICE
While you want to avoid telling your loved one what to do, remind them that there are many treatment options available. Studies have shown that regular exercise can help alleviate the symptoms associated with many mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, addictions, and more. Offer to exercise with your loved one. This will not only promote a healthy lifestyle, but will also strengthen your relationship. Let your loved one know that therapy and professional help is also an option.
In some cases, your loved one may be reluctant to accept their mental illness and refuse to seek help. If you think your loved one may be in a life-threatening situation or is harboring any suicidal thoughts, it is important to seek out professional help immediately.