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Is your loved one struggling? 9 ways to offer mental health support

Many people often ask, “how to support someone with mental illness?” So here’s what you can do to provide mental health support to overcome their psychological disorder.
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Aayushi Gupta Published: 8 Mar 2024, 03:45 pm IST
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Supporting someone with a mental illness requires empathy and understanding. But going straight to them without being thoughtful about what kind of support you offer can actually do more harm than good. For example, instead of dismissing their struggles with phrases like “you’ll be fine,” offer genuine reassurance by saying, “I’m here for you whenever you need me.” This little difference can make them feel supported and help them overcome their challenges. So, know how to support someone with mental health problems.

How to support someone with a mental health problem?

If you have a loved one or a friend who is struggling with a mental health issue, follow these 9 tips:

1. Beware of the warning signs

Firstly, it’s essential to recognise the warning signs of mental health problems. Changes in behaviour, mood swings, social withdrawal, and difficulty coping with daily tasks could indicate underlying issues. By being observant and attentive, you can help them in the early stages and prevent mental health problems.

2. Keep them busy

Keeping the person busy can be beneficial, as it helps to distract them from negative thoughts and emotions. “Encourage activities they enjoy, such as playing any sport, watching a movie, or going for a walk. It can provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment, which can positively impact their mental well-being,” says Psychiatrist Dr Sonal Anand.

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3. Engage in conversation with them

Communication is key to supporting someone with a mental health problem. Initiate an open and honest conversation about their mental health problems. Encourage them to share what they are feeling and what is bothering them. Let them know that it’s okay to talk about what they’re going through and that you’re there to listen

4. Refrain from making judgments

Be mindful of what you are saying and how you are reacting when discussing their experience or problem. “Avoid saying things such as “It’s okay, “You are fine,” etc., and making assumptions about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours,” explains Dr Anand. Instead, offer empathy, validation, and unconditional support.

Also read: 5 things you must avoid saying to anyone battling mental illness

5. Listen attentively

Practise active listening by giving them your full attention and avoiding interruptions or distractions. Show empathy and understanding by validating their emotions and experiences. Maintain an open mind and refrain from offering unsolicited advice or trying to “fix” their problems.

6. Reassure them

Reassure the person that you are there for them and will support them through their challenges. Let them know they are not alone in their journey and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Providing consistent emotional support can help them overcome what they are feeling.

Hug them and let them know you are there to help! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Be patient

Patience is essential when supporting someone with a mental health problem. Since recovery may take time and breakdowns can also occur, you should be patient and understanding towards them. Always encourage and support them in their tough times.

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8. Understand your boundaries

It’s also crucial to know your limits and set boundaries. While providing support, you should take care of yourself as well and take enough rest and breaks. Don’t let their experience and feelings hurt you and stress you out.

9. Accompany them to medical appointments

“Accompanying the person to their medical appointments, such as therapy sessions, psychiatrist visits, or support group meetings, can be incredibly helpful,” recommends Dr Anand. It shows your commitment to their well-being and provides practical support. Additionally, it allows you to stay informed about their progress and treatment plan, enabling you to provide more effective support.

Keep these tips in mind while dealing with someone who is going through any mental health problems!

Aayushi Gupta

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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