Talking About Mental Health
Caring for a loved one who is sick or disabled is never easy. When the illness affects your loved one's state of mind, the demands placed on you can be even more difficult.
Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are biological in nature. This means that they directly affect brain function. This makes it hard or impossible for the person to think, reason, feel, or relate to others in a predictable or expected way and it can strain relationships with family and friends. Efforts to help may be met with no interest, or with anger or suspicion.
Talking to someone who is struggling with their mood and state of mind is often the first step to take when you know they are going through a hard time. This way you may be able to find out what is troubling them and what you can do to help.
Eight tips for talking about mental health
- Set time aside with no distractions
- Let them share as much or as little as they want
- Don't try to diagnose or second guess their feelings
- Keep questions open ended
- Talk about wellbeing
- Listen carefully to what they tell you
- Offer them help in seeking professional support and provide information on ways to do this
- Know your limits
Asking for help can be difficult but important. If you believe they are in immediate danger or they have injuries that need medical attention, you need to take action to make sure they are safe.
Mental illness is a medical disorder. It is not a character flaw or a sign of weakness. Learn as much as you can about your loved one's disorder. Try to understand the challenges he or she faces. Learn about the recommended treatment and how to get it. Remember that you can't be a therapist for your loved one. Professional help is sometimes key for the person to get better. Your loved one may need your help to accept that.
Use all available resources. This will make it easier to deal with the unpredictability of the illness. For example, keep a list of phone numbers of therapists, healthcare providers, family members, and friends who can help. Also include the number of a suicide crisis line, substance abuse center, or mental health hospital in case of a crisis. This will help you and your loved one know that there is a safety net of people and resources available at all times. It will also keep the burden of care from being completely on your shoulders.
Find support for yourself. It's important for you to live your own life as much as possible and to take time for yourself and your interests. Your needs are important. If you are interested in talking to a licensed professional, contact the PIH Health Behavioral Health Clinic at 562.967.2840. A member of our team will verify your insurance coverage. If your insurance is not accepted, you will be informed to call the number on the back of the insurance card and request a list of licensed providers in your area.