How to Support Loved Ones with Mental Illness

When a loved one struggles with a mental illness, it can affect the relationships of those closest to them. Relationships are meant to be a support system especially during the times of need. Watching a loved one struggle with mental illness may be difficult for you and you may not know how to support them.

If you can’t to understand the needs of your loved one, mental illness might begin to take a toll on you. You do not have to go through this alone. Here at Dr. Messina & Associates, we have psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists trained to support you and your loved ones on the journey to mental health and wellness.

 

Understanding the Diagnosis

If your loved one struggles with a mental illness, you should try to understand the nature of their illness. The more you comprehend, the better care you can provide to your partner.

Certain conditions require more attention than others, which is why you need to stay informed. You may want to obtain general information about the illness from books and research; however, what your loved one shares with you is most important. You need to listen to your loved one, learn what they are feeling, thinking and experiencing. You may notice their thought processes are not what you would call logical, that is their mental illness. Do not be dismissive of these thoughts or feelings. Rather, try to understand and be supportive.,

 

Ask How They Would Like to Be Supported

Although you might think you know how your loved one would like to be comforted during their difficult times, they may need a specific type of support. Maybe it’s a tight hug, maybe it’s holding their hand and helping them count to ten, maybe it’s a conversation.

There are many ways you can be supportive of your loved one, even by simply communicating that you are there for them you are being supportive.

 

Listen

Sometimes it is okay to sit and listen. You don’t always have to give your input when your loved one shares their concerns and worries. Although you can attempt to come up with a suggestion or a solution, listening goes a long way. Keep in mind that your loved one is currently suffering from a mental illness and suggestions and solutions do not always work in these situations. Practice Active Listening. Active listening is making a conscious effort to hear, understand, and retain information that's being relayed to you. This will allow you to learn more about what triggers their current behavior and what you can do to make them feel safer and comfortable. The goal is to make your loved one feel comfortable and safe.

 

Self-Care

This is the part where you need to seek your own needs. You need to be physically and mentally well, to be a proper support system to your loved ones. Engaging in healthy behaviors such as getting enough rest, eating nutritious meals, and exercising regularly will contribute to your own physical and mental well-being and allow you to be a strong support to them. Do not let yourself get drained.  

 

Help Your Loved One Find Care

Acknowledging you are not able to “fix” your loved one is crucial. You can be there for them and be a support system, however, you are not equipped to resolve their mental health issues.

Therapy is beneficial as this can help you or your loved one cope and healthily process feelings. Behaviors and emotions can be assessed with counseling or therapy. Our practice specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication management for mental illness.

 

Getting Help

If you or your loved one is suffering from a mental illness, you do not have to go through this on your own.

Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.

Author
Dr. Michael Messina

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