Mental illness can affect your loved one's mood, thoughts, and behaviors. And although it can be challenging to see someone you care about facing such hardship, your love and care for them can often help them immensely in their journey back to positive mental health.
While it can be difficult to feel confident in helping a loved one with their mental health, below are some tangible ways to show them the love, care, and acceptance they deserve.
Encourage them to Seek Professional Help
56% of adult Americans do not seek help for their mental health issues. It is important to know that there is no shame in struggling with mental health issues, and this is something that must be voiced to your loved one as they continue on their journey. If you begin to notice that the person is having frequent mood changes, trouble eating, and an increasing desire to isolate themselves, it is essential to make sure that they do not feel judged by you, but rather that you approach them with a sense of gentleness and care.
Once you have approached them, it is beneficial to explain to them they are not alone on their journey and that there are caring professionals who can help them back to a state of positive mental health. In fact, therapy has been shown to greatly reduce mental health issues, with treatments ranging from traditional medication to more alternative methods such as psychotherapy.
Don't Debate, Dialogue
Sometimes, the family member you approach may not be ready to hear what you have to say. Remember, it can be difficult for people who struggle with mental health issues to come to terms with their feelings and behaviors. If the person you approach does not react well to your observation of their actions, remember to show patience and understanding towards them.
A person's mental health is not a debate to win but rather a dialogue to enter into for the benefit of the person struggling. In Psychology Today, Victoria Maxwell writes of the importance of caring for a loved one with mental illness by saying, "Your love, acceptance, and patience [towards a loved one with mental illness] are more beneficial than you will ever realize." Helping a family member with mental illness is sure to be tough on everyone involved, but it is always important to try and empathize with the person suffering from the mental health issues.
In the end, it is important to realize that many factors play into one's mental health. Factors such as financial struggles, failed relationships, and chemical imbalance scan all affect the long-term mental health of someone. But the truth is, caring for someone with mental health doesn't mean fixing all of their problems, but instead showing them love and comfort in the times they need it the most.