Source: Jamelah e. via flickr.
Advice

Helping someone with mental health problems

By Sarah Harris

If you’ve ever suffered from any form of mental health problem then you know it can at times seem like a huge burden on other people. But the thing is, they probably wouldn’t see it that way. It’s easy to forget that your closest family and friends want nothing more than to see you healthy both mentally and physically. Even then, taking care of someone who suffers from any mental health issue is not easy and it definitely takes more than a few days to get them back to a good place. I guess the most important thing to remember is that each person is different and everyone suffers and heals in their own way.

When I go through a depressive episode, like most people, I tend to lock myself away. I don’t really share what I’m going through with other people and give the typical, “I’m fine” response. I know for a fact this annoys the hell out of my boyfriend – “But I can see you’re upset,” he always argues. If you’re taking care of someone who suffers from mental health problems, it’s important to remember that for them to admit that they’re in a dark place takes a lot of courage and pressurizing someone to talk to you will just drive them further away. It’s best to remain patient whilst subtly reminding them you’re always there if they want to talk or need help. For some people it’s easier to talk to a professional rather than to someone they know personally so you can always suggest they speak to a counselor or their local GP.

Despite the fact that you shouldn’t smother them, it’s also important to remember to keep an eye on people who do suffer from mental health issues. As I said earlier, each issue is different and therefore everyone suffers differently. There will be times when you don’t realize that someone is suffering but they in fact are. I had a friend who was bi-polar and was triggered by people cancelling plans and events. I know that sounds like something that would piss most people off but it caused her to have severe panic attacks and feel extremely anxious. It took her almost a year to realize that other people’s last minute plans were causing her to suffer and therefore it took her friends to see what they would unintentionally be doing. I’m not saying that you need to be physcic or always one step ahead but attention to detail is definitely important when it comes to helping someone out!

I could write a whole paragraph on how being a good listener is important but I’m pretty sure you know that by now. I’ve always found it easier to recover from going through a bad phase when I have someone to push me. My mum’s method involved waking me up early every morning instead of letting me stay in bed all day and allow my mental situation to worsen. Although to some people this may seem like hell on earth, I found that having someone there to encourage you to get the most of your day helped. Distractions are a great thing when you’re not in the best mental state so planning to take someone out can always be a huge help, even if it’s a little trip to the corner store. Mental health problems are usually unpredictable and definitely don’t disappear over the course of time. It takes years to figure out people’s triggers and how best to help them but once you do, it can be a huge relief. Like I said, taking care of someone with mental health issues is not easy and can even be mentally and physically exhausting but it’s definitely worth it to see them happy!

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