According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental illness affects one in every four people. Well, for starters, there are many types of mental illnesses and disorders. These range from mild stress to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, autism, dementia, and schizophrenia, among others. It is approximated that more than 500 million people around the globe suffer from mental disorders, most of them without knowing. Due to factors such as neglect, discrimination, stigma, and the lack of awareness, many people don’t seek treatment for these conditions.
Some sufferers may also be too sick to notice, whereas some could simply be in denial, especially for depression. If you know or suspect a friend or a loved one is suffering from mental health issues, the best thing you can do is support them however you can. It’s not the person’s wish to be mentally challenged, and your support could go a long way in improving their quality of life or even aiding their recovery.
Below, we explore a few ways you can support a friend with mental health challenges.
Seek Professional Treatment
While recovering from or managing mental health issues may take a combination of different approaches, therapy and medication are among the best options available. If your friend is exhibiting signs of mental challenges, it’s advisable to find a way to get them professional help. You can start from your nearest health practitioner or a mental health specialist if you know one. Thanks to the internet, things are easier today, and you can easily get a psychiatrist online. With a professional online provider, your friend can get help from an experienced psychiatrist right from the comfort of their home. The professional will also advise you on whether a physical appointment is needed or not. You can even go the extra mile and accompany them to the clinic. This is one of the best ways to understand your friend’s needs as he recovers or stabilizes.
Offer Social Support
Mental challenges and disorders vary widely in severity and causes. Socially supporting a friend who has a mild mental challenge can go a long way in speeding up towards his recovery. There are various kinds of social support, including instrumental, emotional, appraisal, and informational. Basically, it involves ensuring that they’re living a healthy lifestyle, perhaps by encouraging them to take a healthy diet, regular activity, and better quality sleep. You can take a daily walk together or offer to cook a healthy meal and share it with them. This can be a good stepping stone to that much-needed recovery.
Talking is also therapeutic. If your friend is suffering from challenges like depression, anxiety, and bipolar, you can choose a relaxing environment and pick a good time to share and talk about his or her condition. However, ensure you approach them smoothly and find out if they’re comfortable to talk it out. It shouldn’t feel like a confrontation.
Let Your Friend Know He Can Count on You
A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. This saying has never been true, especially when your friend is facing mental challenges and everybody else stigmatizes him and walks out of his life. Humans are social beings, and they all need a friend whom they always depend on in the thick of time for some emotional support. We all go through some challenging times in life but it’s our friends who mostly help us pull through them. One of the best ways to offer support is by assuring your friend that they can always count on you and that your friendship is valuable. Don’t be judgmental, respond positively, and let them know you understand what they are going through, and try as much as possible to be there whenever they need you.
Keep in Touch
Mental issues can sometimes impair your friend’s ability to work or even get along with you or others. Keeping close contact with your friend can help them feel better. Many mental health sufferers also tend to withdraw and isolate themselves, with the latter being a common depression trap. This can be dangerous and can make their situation worse. Ensure you always reach out to your friend, make that phone call, and encourage him to call you at any time of the day or night. Spending time together makes a big difference, but don’t put too much pressure if they need their quiet time alone.
Finally, mental illness requires much patience. It’s not one of those illnesses that go away in an hour or a day like that headache or cold. It might take months or even more before you start noticing any improvements. The progress can be disappointingly slow. Therefore, you will need to be patient with your friend on this daunting stretch to recovery. The most important thing is for your friend to know you are concerned about their health and you are willing to help them in every step of the way!