Mental health conditions affect millions of people in the U.S. and around the world. If one of those people is a friend or family member, you know that the impact of mental health issues reaches far beyond the person with the condition.
Much has been written about mental illness and its treatment. Much less has been written about the spouses, families, and friends who witness their loved one in pain, and who must also often live with the side-effects of the disorder themselves.
How to be Helpful
It can be scary trying to get help for a friend or loved one with mental health challenges – ranging from depression to thinking about suicide or something else. You do not have to do it alone - let us help. If someone you know needs help, we encourage you to call us and speak to a caring professional who can help guide your friend or loved one into appropriate care.
How to be helpful to someone who needs mental health care:
- Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly.
- Be willing to listen. Allow and accept any expression of feelings.
- Be nonjudgmental. Don’t debate right or wrong, good or bad.
- Get involved. Become available, show support and interest.
- Get help from professionals.
Steps to a Better Life
Life with a person who has a mental health condition can be filled with intense emotions. It is natural to feel frustrated, angry, overwhelmed or hopeless.
LLuckily, there are now coping strategies for handling mental health-related difficulties. Families and friends can now take classes on effective interactions between you and the person living with a mental health condition. Learning these tools can also help your friend or family member succeed in their treatment process.
Please remember that when you care for an individual with a mental health condition, it is vital that you take care of your own physical and emotional well-being.
Helping your loved one begins with you:
Learn about mental health conditions.
You will need to understand what your loved one goes through with frequently debilitating mental health conditions. We recommend you start with our Resources Page for links to respected sources of mental health education.
Become a Catalyst for Change
Try to follow these guidelines:
- Help your loved one find appropriate treatment for their mental health condition. Encourage him or her to actively participate in the process. Treatment can be the most important step in gaining relief.
- Stop enabling dysfunction in your household or in your relationship. Sometimes accommodating unhealthy behavior can do more harm by preventing the necessity for proper treatment.
- Try to establish a positive emotional climate in the home. Your acceptance and support of your friend or family member are vitally important to their healing.
Our mission at The Woodlands Psychiatry and Counseling is to help people with mental health issues find relief. We also want to help families and friends develop key skills to become agents of change and help initiate dramatic improvements.
Take Care of Yourself
Before an airplane ever leaves the ground, flight attendants instruct to passengers: In case of an emergency, put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else. Unless you first take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help others. Yet this basic truth is often overlooked by family members and friends of individuals with mental health disorders. Research indicates that family members report sometimes severe distress due to a loved one’s mental health problems. Yet family and friends seldom seek the professional help they need. Instead, they usually focus on the loved one with the mental health condition.
The bottom line is that having a relationship with, and in some cases, caring for, a family member with a mental health issue can be very stressful. To effectively help that person, you must take care of your own physical and emotional well-being. That may mean seeking respite for yourself. You may also want to attend a family support group. Talking with others who have had similar lived experiences and learning about how they managed can be extremely helpful.
Please call (281) 383-9366 today to learn about our family and friend program, and about how we can help you help your loved one.