- Learn about mental health first aid to assist in recognizing signs of mental health issues.
- Promote open communication, honesty and respect within your relationship.
- Be patient and empathetic while providing support.
- Offer practical help and resources related to the person’s mental health needs.
- Look after your own mental health while supporting the other person.
When someone you care about is facing mental health challenges, it can be difficult to know how to help. Whether your loved one is dealing with depression, anxiety or other issues related to their mental well-being, the right kind of support can make a huge difference in their recovery and long-term mental health. Here are five practical ways to support a loved one’s mental health.
1. Learn About Mental Health
Learning about mental health is one of the best ways to support your loved one’s mental health. Taking helpful mental health first aid courses can give you the knowledge and skills to recognize signs of mental health issues in someone close to you and provide you with strategies for helping them. It also teaches you how to assess risk factors and advise on professional help. Taking a course in mental health first aid is an investment that can pay off in the long run by giving you the resources to help your loved one in need.
2. Promote Open Communication
Creating an environment where open communication is encouraged can benefit your loved one’s mental health. To foster a culture of honesty and respect within your relationship, ensuring neither party feels judged or devalued. Start by being transparent about what you expect from each other and setting clear boundaries for communication.
Encourage your loved one to be open and honest about any struggles they may be facing. Let them know it’s okay to express their feelings, even if difficult or uncomfortable. Ensure you actively listen when your loved one is talking — hear what they’re saying without interruption or judgment.
3. Be Patient and Empathetic
Mental health is a delicate issue, and supporting your loved one can often be difficult. It’s important to understand that recovery from mental illness can take time and to remain patient throughout this process. You may feel frustrated when progress isn’t made as quickly as you would like, but remaining empathetic and supportive is important. It can be helpful to remember that your loved one is probably overwhelmed by their illness, and they may need more time than you are comfortable with to get better.
In addition to remaining patient, while providing support, it’s also important to be empathetic. Empathizing with your loved one’s struggles is essential in providing effective support. Showing understanding and compassion can go a long way in helping them cope with their mental health issues.
4. Offer Practical Support
Offer practical help related to the person’s mental health needs. With practical support, you can help open up the conversations about mental health and make it easier for your loved one to access their care.
Here are some practical support ideas:
Research Mental Health Resources
Take the time to research mental health support services in your area, such as community programs and mental health professionals. Create a list of resources to share with your loved one so that they know where to go for help when needed. Access to reliable information can be comforting and empower them to make informed decisions about their care.
Accompany to Appointments
Accompanying your loved one to appointments with a mental health professional can benefit both of you. By attending, you will understand the individual’s treatment plan and how you can best support them in managing it. Being present during office visits may reduce stress and assure that your loved one has someone who cares about them.
Build a Positive Environment
Create an environment where your loved one feels safe and supported, free from judgment. Listen to their feelings without judgment, show empathy for their struggles, and acknowledge even small accomplishments as progress toward healing. A positive environment can help your loved one feel more comfortable and motivated to engage in their treatment.
Create a Care Plan
Working with the mental health professional, create an individualized care plan that outlines specific steps you and your loved one can take to manage their mental health. The plan should include medications, therapy sessions, guidelines for when to ask for help, and activities the individual can do in their spare time. Incorporating a care plan into daily life may help reduce anxiety and bring more structure.
5. Look After Your Own Mental Health
Finally, looking after your mental health while supporting a loved one is important. This can include talking to someone about how you’re feeling, taking breaks when needed, and ensuring you are comfortable with the level of support provided.
To Wrap It Up
By implementing these five practical ways to support your loved one’s mental health, you can help make a positive difference in their life. Everyone copes with mental health differently, so it’s important to tailor your approach and support strategies depending on the person and their circumstances.