One in five adults experiences a diagnosable mental health condition. Sadly, more than half of these people don’t receive treatment. One of the key factors in getting help is support from loved ones – those who receive this support are more likely to recover.
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues; people are afraid of being viewed in a negative way. These conditions are often viewed as shameful or avoidable.
This isn’t something that’s seen with physical health conditions. Can you imagine if less than 50 percent of people with heart issues sought treatment? With mental health issues, it takes a lot of trust for a person to admit they need help.
Every mental health illness has its own unique symptoms, but there are a few general things to watch for that may indicate a loved one is struggling:
- Feeling anxious or on edge
- Feeling sad or low for prolonged periods of time
- Low energy
- Prolonged irritability or anger
- Behavior changes – for example, suddenly avoiding friends and isolating
- Changes in basic functioning – for example, having trouble at work or school
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in appetite
- Using alcohol or other substances to cope
If a loved one confides in you about a mental health struggle, here are five tips to provide support:
- Listen to what your loved one is saying and try to understand and see things from their perspective.
- Ask questions – People often avoid asking questions out of fear of making things worse. However, asking questions will help you understand what the person is going through.
- If your loved one indicates thoughts of harming themselves, don’t leave him or her alone and seek immediate medical attention for them.
- Help them get the care they need – A person struggling with a mental health condition may have difficulty concentrating or taking next steps. You can help by making them an appointment with a therapist. It may also help to go to the appointments with them to show your support.
- Be patient – One of the most difficult things for loved ones is understanding that recovery takes time and their loved one won’t function the same as before even if they look the same. Reset your expectations and make an effort to meet your loved one where they are in the recovery process.
Linden Oaks Behavioral Health provides the full spectrum of care for those afflicted with a mental health condition. We provide a level of care assessment where people can call or come in to talk about what they are dealing with so we can assess the appropriate level of care that is needed. We offer both inpatient and outpatient care with evidence-based therapy to help people learn the skills they need to get back to feeling like their best selves.
We also offer Mental Health First Aid – a program geared toward helping adults and teens learn about mental illness and how to support someone who is struggling. The program includes two hours of self-paced course work followed by 5.5 hours of instructor-led course work. It’s an excellent way to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse.