how to support someone with mental illness

Learn About How to Support Someone with Mental Illness

Mental illness is defined as a mental disorder as a significant dysfunction in a person’s thinking, emotional control, and behavior. Mental illness is a disease of the brain that affects your thinking, intelligence, emotions, feelings, and relationship skills. Mental illness is real and far more widespread than you may be aware of, as one out of three Americans has a battle with their mental health.

Conquering mental health isn’t an easy task. The topic is uncomfortable and plagued by its untruths, misconceptions, and stigma. Initiating the conversation about mental health is important. It is vital to helping the person that you love to get the proper professional help that they need.

Symptoms of Mental Illness

The symptoms and disorders of mental illness are real, although they may not show on the surface. Many people who live with a mental illness often fight their battle quietly and alone. This is due to the fear of embarrassment from their family, friends, or employer. The stereotypes, misunderstandings, and false information about people with mental illnesses cause those living with the illness to not seek help or get the proper support from their family, friends, and spouses. The person who you love may go years without even telling you.

The symptoms of mental illness aren’t always surface level. Most of the people who are living with mental illness also live productive lives. Despite the challenges they are still able to go on with their daily life, but you never know the pain that they are internalizing.

There are many signs to be aware of if you are concerned about a loved one living with serious mental illness. Those signs include but aren’t limited to social withdrawal, feeling disconnected, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, alcohol or drug use, and mood changes. Sleep and mental health can be a significant sign that someone is suffering by receiving little or no sleep or sleeping too much.

As friends, family members and spouses we may hold our own social stigmas surrounding mental health. Be mindful that the person you love can’t snap out of it. They don’t have the complete control of their own thoughts, emotions, or behaviors. It’s quite common that they may not even have an understanding of what is going on in their own mind.

Powerful Tool of Education and Awareness on Mental Health

The most effective tool to combat and understand mental health problems is education. As a family member, friend, or spouse of someone with a mental health condition the best thing you can do is to learn about their condition. Educating yourself on mental health will put you in a better position to provide the support and love that your loved one needs. While also being better equipped to find ways to develop, promote, and restore their mental health and social functioning.

Another way to help assist your loved one on the road to recovery is awareness, advocacy, and empathy. Mental health and wellness advocacy can open up the dialogue and spread awareness of the issues.

The road to recovery can never be traveled alone. A support system that emphasizes care and love is the key to mental health recovery. The support from friends and family plays a significant and important role in recovery. It can signal to the person battling a mental illness that they are not alone.

It’s important to understand what your loved one is going through. You’ll be better equipped to help. While also being the shoulder that they can lean on while they navigate their mental-health roller coaster on the road to recovery.

Tools to Provide Support and How to Support Someone With Mental Illness

Providing support for someone with a mental health disorder does bring its own challenges. There are too many people going undiagnosed and untreated for mental illness. By learning about mental health, the support, and understanding that you can give go a long way. It can provide encouragement and help the person you love cope with symptoms while overcoming negative thoughts.

It can be difficult knowing and seeing someone you care about struggle with their mental health. Like any other illness, the right support and treatment are beneficial. If you’re the parent, spouse, or friend of someone that suffers from mental health conditions the following tips are helpful to provide to assist them with their recovery:

For Parents

There is no special training needed to show your son or daughter that you care about them and their mental health. Just being there for them can make all the difference. As a parent, be willing to talk to your son and daughter without passing judgment. Let them know that you can be trusted to help them find positive ways to cope with their symptoms. If needed, take the initiative to set up family counseling and/or therapy. The full support of a parent can be empowering for anyone battling mental illness.

For Spouses

It is difficult for a person with mental health conditions to connect on a deep emotional level with anyone. Realize that when they experience symptoms such as mood swings or depression that it isn’t your loved one but the illness talking. Empathy goes a long way and is more important than giving advice. Offer help to help them find a proper therapist or encourage your loved one to see a doctor.

For Friends

Learn what your friend is going through. Offer the support and understanding by giving hope. You can help them snap out of it but also be there to listen. Take their mental illness seriously. Be open and willing to express. Most importantly, don’t shame them for being negative. They aren’t choosing to see negative thoughts and ignore the positives, as they are unable to access positive feelings.


Jeremy Divinity is a blogger, freelance writer, and digital marketer from Los Angeles, California. He writes with the aim to inspire and motivate, you can read more on his blog

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