The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports nearly one in five US adults are living with a mental health illness and, although there are various conditions, chances are you will know someone living with such an issue. Despite this fact, very few of us know what to do when someone they care about is struggling – or even know how to identify the signs.
People with mental health or addiction issues will have good and bad days, but you need to know what to do to help them through the tough times. So first, educate yourself about what the warning signs may be. This is relevant even if someone hasn’t been diagnosed with a mental health issue because they may not recognize the symptoms themselves. If they don’t know the signs (or even if they do), then you can help them before things get too much for them to cope.
Those signs can include:
- A change in work or school performance
- Social withdrawal
- Losing interest in hobbies or anything else they usually enjoy
- Changes in mood and/or hygiene standards
- Unusual absences
If you do speak to them about how they’re feeling, make sure you’re careful with your choice of words. Don’t criticize their behavior or use words or phrases that sound judgmental. You’ll make them feel worse, and look like you’re being unsupportive.
Making your loved one know you will support them no matter what will help them at their lowest points. Even if you don’t live near them, assure them that they can still talk to you on the phone when they want to speak to you. You don’t even need to say anything; just making yourself available, or knowing you will be if they ask, can be enough. They are not alone!
You can be the most supportive person in someone’s life, but you won’t have all the answers to everything when it comes to their mental health or addiction. Sometimes, visiting a medical professional may be the next step.
They can go to a physician, counselor, or psychologist to help with diagnosis and managing the symptoms of their condition. If they want you to, you can help them plan their first visit to a therapy session, so this way, they don’t miss out any critical information.
Attending programs or going to residential treatment centers may also aid you loved one overcome their struggles, even if that person is a teenager, with facilities such as Ignite Teen Treatment offering specialized programs for young people. There are plenty of options out there, depending on a person’s age and their condition, so explore all of what’s available to you.
Additionally, it might be that the first option they try isn’t the best one for them. Your loved one may want to give up, but encourage them to stick with it and always offer your support as they find the correct treatment.
Giving your loved one all the support they need – no matter what – will help them on the path to being in control of their issues.