BEING SUPPORTIVE TO PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

Mental health is a very crucial issue and I am excited at the amount of awareness that is going around on this issue. However, there needs to be more. The ultimate support starts with the ones you give people around you – strangers, friends or family.

In one of our podcast episodes, I spoke briefly on compassion based on an experience encountered on a train. One of the things that hit me was how cold people where to a man who was outrightly in need of help mentally and otherwise.

Our society tries to make us feel like we need to have a steel heart and act our way through life like we have it all together. This makes it difficult to ask for help when we need it. When it comes to mental health, there are still a lot of people who trivialise mental health and stigmatize people for being vulnerable enough to admit they struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar and so much more. Therapy is a thing that has to be mentioned under breath because of fear of being stigmatised or labelled ‘weak’ and ‘crazy’.

As much as there are lots of conferences and awareness of mental health, there is need for more in providing a healthy support system and breaking the stigmatisation that comes with it mental illness.

You don’t have to be close to a person to provide support. A little smile, act of kindness goes a long way. How supportive are you to people dealing with mental health?

I had a lot of traumatic experiences that over the years took a toll on me. I began to experience severe depression and anxiety. For years, I lived with this not knowing what to do and feeling like it was my fault I suffered from anxiety and depression. Palpitations for no reason and a lot of very crazy episodes that had me in and out of the hospital constantly for almost a year.

I realized as I began to deal with it that I never really had the support system I needed. At the point I began to have a healthy support system, it made things better. I still struggle sometimes but having a healthy support system has helped a lot.

For those who have no one, you’ve got this. I will suggest starting with therapy and reading books that will aid you on this journey. Contact us for questions or to just talk here. Go to our book club to view some books that will be very helpful.

Depending on what a person is dealing with there are basic things that can assist in creating a supportive atmosphere for people.

You need to understand that people who deal with mental illness do not enjoy the feeling, they want to get better, they want to be okay.

  • Be kind. This goes without much ado.
  • Love. I’m not talking about some dysfunctional conception of love. Real and true love which starts with how you treat, see yourself and want to be treated, will go a long way in making you create a healthy support system for others.
  • Communicate. A lot of people dealing with mental illness want to talk but might find it difficult to say anything especially as most of what goes on in their head might seem crazy to others. Allow them to say what’s on their mind. Less talk and more listening.
  • Patience. This might be a bit hectic but it is very important. In listening to them, in being there for them, going through the tantrums, cries or lashing out, be patient and remember. They do not enjoy feeling this way. They need help!! So be patient and make them know that they are safe. It starts with having a little understanding of where they are coming from and walking with love.
  • Therapy. A lot of people who go through issue with mental health have lots of traumatic experiences growing up. Therapy is a wonderful place to start. It’s not that your therapist is a miracle worker but having a neutral person to talk to knowing you can say all the crazy and just be yourself and let it out, goes a long way in healing and recovery. Talking heals.
  • Compassion. Learn to respect their journey, growth and meet them where they are. You don’t have to know a person to be compassionate to them. If you can, stand up for them when you see them being taken advantage of.
  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. This is very important because you cannot give what you do not have. You need to be love yourself and take good care of yourself mentally and otherwise in order to be able to help another. This doesn’t mean that your situation might be rosy but it’s being able to create a peaceful mindset in the midst of activities. You must look after yourself and also meet yourself where you are at a each point. You come first and in taking care of yourself, you will be in the best position to understand what another person needs and help effectively.
  • Negativity. A negative environment is the worst thing  a person with mental health needs or any person for that matter. If you can, support them in creating boundaries and separate yourself and them from drama and any toxicity. This includes the language you use. As humans, we are very used to talking in negative affirmations, begin to unlearn the habit, one baby step at a  time.
  • Have fun. Take them out, do things that you want to do. Don’t over-flog trivial issues. Have fun!! Live life!!
  • Purpose: Purpose is one thing that changes the trajectory of a person’s life. When a person finds their purpose and begins to become in sync with it, it helps.
  • Check in frequently. You’ll be surprised at the magic ‘How are you?’ can do.
  • Above all get to the root of the matter and let them know and see that in this journey they are not alone.

Mental illness is a very vast topic to dive into in one editorial but these are just basic pointers.

You are not alone.

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