- What to Expect
- About Us
Our blog archive of insights and intel
Sep 9, 2020
When someone in your family struggles with mental illness, you may feel helpless and not know what to say. Many people don’t know how to help or where to go to find competent professional care. Because every person’s experience with mental illness is different, there is no one size fits all plan of care. The way you approach the situation depends on the circumstances. However, here are a few tips that may help you cope with mental illness in the family by approaching your loved one in a caring and compassionate way that lets them know you only want to help.
Mental health conditions usually manifest early in life. About half of those diagnosed with mental health conditions started to display symptoms by age 14, and approximately 75% before age 24. Most people describe knowing that something was wrong long before the diagnosis. While there are some general signs to look for, you know your loved one best and the first to notice changes in personality or behavior that may be a cause for concern. Here are a few common signs that a person may be struggling with mental health challenges.
These difficulties are not definitive signs of mental illness; they could relate to other health conditions. However, if several of these indicators are present, they may be signs that some form of professional follow-up is to keep things from getting worse. The consequences of not seeking help may be severe. For example, 90% of people who commit suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition.
Approaching someone you love about getting help with mental health challenges can be an awkward conversation. The best way to start may be with an open and honest statement that you love them and are concerned for their well-being. Let them know you will be there for them. Frame the comments from your perspective using “I” sentences rather than using “you” statements to avoid putting them on the defensive. For example, “I am worried about you,” instead of, “You need to get some help.”
Conversations about mental health difficulties require a great deal of patience. However, early intervention can help improve long-term prognosis and reduce the severity of mental illness. Here are some goals you can set for your approach to the conversation.
Remember that the family and friends of a person with mental health challenges experience stress, worry, and isolation. You may even feel a level of shame because you don’t know how to help. Here are a few tips to help you deal with the experience.
At MHS, we work for our clients’ health and well-being, but we also understand that the welfare of family members is a critical element of mental health. Our experienced team of professionals can help you better understand what is happening with your loved ones and how you can help. Though it’s challenging to face, there is hope for positive outcomes for those who have mental illnesses. For example, 80% of those treated for depression show improvement in four to six weeks.
Photo Credit: Robert Kneschke