How To Support Someone With Mental Health Problems?
Unlike physical issues, symptoms related to mental health issues are not apparent. This contributes to the misinformation and myths that surround mental health issues.
Like the people with physical health issues, the ones with mental health issues require our unwavering support. But how do we provide support to those struggling with mental health? What are the things that we, as caretakers, should have in mind? These are the things that we will discuss in this article.
What Research Say?
In a 2017 study, researchers Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser found out that there were 792 million people (10.7% of the global population) living with some form of mental health disorder.
Understanding Mental Health Issues.
The first and foremost thing that we can do to help people with mental health issues is to understand the nature of these issues.
To understand mental health issues, we must first know the myths and facts.
Myth: Mental health issues cannot affect me.
Fact: Mental health issues can affect anyone.
Yes, we might be very strong-willed and have sound mental health, but that does not mean we might not fall victim to mental health issues.
We all have our highs and lows, but it is in the times of low and stressful events that we must be careful not to live our lives in a downward spiral.
Myth: Children cannot have mental health issues.
Fact: Children may show earlier signs of mental health issues.
Children have been known to show early signs of mental health problems. This is mainly because of the biological aspect of mental health issues that are clinically diagnosable.
For example, signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can be seen in children below ten years of age. Furthermore, traumatic incidents can also cause an onset of different psychosocial problems in children.
Myth: People with mental health problems can just “snap out of it” if they give it a shot, they’re just lazy.
Fact: Mental health issues are not about a flaw in a person’s character or a lack of motivation.
There are a lot of aspects to a mental health issue being present. Some of them are:
Social factors: Childhood plays a huge role in someone developing a mental health problem.
A traumatic incident, both in childhood or other stages of life, can make someone depressed and distressed.
Biological factors: Genetics, Injury, and imbalances in neurotransmitters in the brain contribute to the onset of mental health issues.
Myth: They cannot recover.
Fact: People with mental health issues can recover.
Recovery when it comes to mental health is a process of change. With the facilitation of a certified mental health counselor, people can live a wholesome life.
Although some chronic mental health issues such as schizophrenia, OCD, and Dissociated Personality Disorder require management through medications and counseling, people diagnosed with these illnesses can still contribute to society as much as a normal person if adequately diagnosed and counseled/treated.
Recognizing the Signs
Most mental health issues have certain behaviors associated with them. Recognizing these signs can mean a world of difference to the person who is suffering from one.
Most of the time, people with existing mental health issues are unlikely to get diagnosed, as research suggests. People with mental health issues should be properly diagnosed.
People experiencing mental health issues should go (or should be talked to go) to a certified mental health counselor when they exhibit symptoms like:
Low-self esteem: Low-self esteem is a byproduct of a mental health crisis. Studies show that people with high self-esteem showed fewer symptoms of depression/anxiety. People with low self-esteem often lack confidence and feel unloved or unwanted.
Loss of interest: A loss of interest in what they previously found joy in is another symptom of an ongoing mental battle. The individuals will drop their long time favorite hobbies and interests with the onset of a mental health problem.
Appetite changes: Mental health issues often manifest themselves through a person’s appetite. Abnormal changes in appetite may be seen in these individuals. It may be a lack of or an increase in appetite that you are experiencing.
Loss of concentration: A lack of concentration and productivity will show up in their day to day lives.
Irritability: People with ongoing mental health issues may show irritability with their friends and family more often.
Changes in sleep cycles: A lack of sleep or oversleeping can be seen.
Overuse of substance: People with underlying mental health problems show behaviors associated with alcohol or drug abuse.
The signs and symptoms associated with underlying mental health problems appear in clusters. For example, an irritable person might be in some form of short-term emotional distress. He may not be having mental health issues.
On the other hand, if other behaviors accompany irritability, and if these behaviors are seen for at least two weeks, we should make sure that they see a mental health professional.
Talking About Mental Health
When we first discover about someone struggling with their mental health issues, it is important for us to respond immediately.
The best thing to do at that moment is to talk about what the other person is going through. Before doing that, it is absolutely vital for us to regulate our own emotions.
It is perfectly understandable that we might be frightened or anxious when we see the person we care about in a bad place. But these emotions are tricky and might manifest in anger or frustration. This will then barricade the flow of the conversation.
These following points might be able to help you establish a good rapport.
Be non-judgemental: A non-judgmental conversation is generally only composed of one thing, and that is not being biased. It is understandable for us to have biases because they help us make choices.
However, we should drop all the pre-conceived notions of the person before us (their bad habits or what they might have done in the past) if we wish to understand their point of view.
Avoid asking questions that start with a “Why” because these questions elicit an emotional reaction from people.
Do not offer advice: Offering advice is what each of us does best because we might all have gone through a similar situation.
However, we should be aware of the fact that what worked for us might not work for someone else. Instead, we might want to ask them for options.
Questions like “So what do you want to do now?” or “What do you want to do to get out of this state” might be helpful.
Do not Blame Them: Blaming a person for their situation is not going to help them or us in any way whatsoever.
It will just send them into a downward spiral of shame and guilt. Instead of focusing on what they might have done wrong, focus on what they are doing right at this moment in time.
Encourage them to seek professional help: Going to therapy does not mean that there is anything wrong with us.
Going to therapy means that we are acknowledging that we are flawed and taking responsibility for ourselves.
Therapy or counseling is a process where a facilitator will help a person realize the resources they have that will aid them in tackling their situation themselves.
When we understand mental health issues and their signs, we are better equipped in handling a situation that might require this knowledge.
A person suffering from mental health also requires support during and after therapy.
Some support activities to protect them from going into relapse include providing them with a positive environment, encouraging them to follow their hobbies or pick up a new one, encouraging them to continue their therapy, and making sure they take their prescribed medication (if any).