Mental illness—a category which includes conditions like schizophrenia and depression—affects tens of millions of Americans each year. However, only about half of people suffering from mental health issues actually receive treatment. This is because, despite their prevalence, signs of mental illness are often stigmatized and dismissed, which can exacerbate symptoms and affect personal and professional relationships.
The good news is that, with the right information, you can support a friend or loved one who suffers from mental illness and help make their journey toward mental health easier.
To start, it’s important to know what qualifies as a mental illness. Common mental illnesses include (but aren't limited to):
- Bipolar disorder
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Major depressive disorder
Once you know what your loved one is suffering from, the best thing you can do is learn more about the condition and offer your support. Education is key when it comes to supporting a friend or family member suffering from mental illness. Not only can it help you empathize with and understand their behavior, but it’s been proven to speed the healing process, reducing symptoms, hospitalization days and relapse. It’s also imperative to learn the correct terminology to use when referring to a loved one’s mental illness.
Keep in mind that a patient’s mental health issues are not anyone’s fault. Serious mental illnesses are often biological, so they’re not a result of bad parenting or the person’s relationships. Their issues aren’t caused or preventable. Establishing that fact will help maintain the equilibrium in your relationship and help your loved one separate their illness from their personal identity.
Remember: it’s important to discuss the subject of mental illness with respect and sensitivity. If you need help getting the conversation started, reach out to a mental health provider to learn more.
Posted: 7/17/2015 by
Filed under: depression, health, illness, mental