Mental health issues and treatment can be challenging for the individual seeking help and their loved ones. If someone you care for is going through mental health treatment, active listening and encouraging healthy habits can help assist them. Learn how to support a loved one on their mental health journey.

Educate Yourself

When your loved one is contending with their mental illness, understanding their diagnosis can help you support them better. Someone with bipolar disorder needs a different type of support than someone with schizophrenia. Ask your loved one about their diagnosis. If they share it with you, go home and research symptoms online. You’ll better understand what they’re dealing with, so you can take a more empathetic approach to assisting them.

If they don’t want to share their diagnosis with you, that is also fine. Don’t pressure them – they may be worried about your reaction to stigmatized mental illness even if they trust you. They also may be embarrassed or ashamed despite those feelings being unnecessary. In these situations, observe their symptoms. Mood changes, excessive worry, and ruminating on future possibilities may require stable and steady support. Those suffering from hallucinations and delusions may require some grounding and gentle intervention.

Listen Attentively

Make sure that you always practice active listening when a loved one tells you about their mental health issues or concerns. Put your thoughts and worries aside and give the person talking to you undivided attention. Ask open-ended questions when possible to get more details about their struggle. Asking questions will help you figure out what to educate yourself on later. Engaging in the conversation also will show them that you care about what they’re saying and want to understand.

Make sure that you’re empathetic when the person’s telling you about their mental health crisis. The speaker places a lot of trust in you as their loved one, and you want to show that they were right to do so.

Know When to Offer Advice

People talk to loved ones about mental health for various reasons. Sometimes, they just want to vent and get things off their chest. Other times, they’ll be seeking advice. The best way to know what your loved one needs is to ask. Inquire whether they just want support for mental health or whether they want you to help them come up with strategies to improve their state of mind.

Regardless, encourage them to practice self-compassion because this is an essential way that they can take their mental health into their own hands. It’s the first step toward effective personal growth or professional assistance.

Help Implement Healthy Habits

If your loved one tells you that they do want help when combatting a mental health problem, you can offer to help them implement healthy habits in their daily lives. Remember that you are not a professional and cannot provide mental health treatment plans, but you can support them in making healthy decisions. Focus on the ways that you can make their day-to-day lives less of a struggle.

For example, many people suffering from depression find it impossible to get out of bed in the morning, which makes household chores impossible, and dishes and laundry often pile up. If you’re willing to help with these household tasks, you can save your loved one a lot of strife. You can also talk about how they can implement healthy strategies for well-being in their daily lives.
Find ways to exercise together; jogs or walks are simple and effective. If you have the time and energy, cook big batches of healthy food for them.

Encourage Professional Mental Health Treatment

Be clear upfront with your loved one that you are not a mental health expert. Encourage them to share as much or as little as they wish, but let them know that talking to a professional is also important. Tell them that you’re happy to listen but aren’t armed with the knowledge and tools of a therapist or psychiatrist.

Psychiatric care experts can offer proven strategies for improving mental health. From talk therapy to wellness-boosting exercises, professional treatment facilities have a lot of resources and the knowledge to provide effective care. Talk with your loved one about outpatient therapy, inpatient programs, and specialized group therapy. Don’t tell them what to do, but let them work out the best treatment plan by talking to you.

Take Care of Yourself

Like your loved one, you are also a person with needs. Listening to people talk about their mental health struggles can be draining and demanding. If you don’t listen to your emotional and physical needs, you may get frustrated with the person and do more harm than good. If you’re overwhelmed, ask them whether they can talk to someone else that day. Acknowledge that they are valid and that you would love to talk with them in the future, but assert boundaries that keep you happy and healthy.

Help Your Loved One Improve Mental Health Issues

Understanding how to assist a loved one in mental health treatment is helpful, but sometimes, working with professionals is best. Encourage your loved one to seek expert guidance from experienced mental health treatment professionals. Comprehensive Wellness Centers offer several different programs for those suffering due to a mental health crisis. Whether your loved one is depressed or needs help managing bipolar disorder, there’s a treatment plan that can offer hope. Encourage them to learn about admissions and fill out an online contact form to get in touch.