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How to Support Someone with a Mental Illness

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The term “Mental Illness” unfortunately carries a negative stigma. Against what many believe, having mental health challenges does not mean insanity. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a mental disorder is characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotional regulation, or behaviour.  It is usually associated with distress or impairment in important areas of functioning. Mental illness then refers to a wide range of conditions, a popular one being anxiety. WHO reports that every 1 in 8 people in the world live with a mental illness, which means you may know and love someone who faces this reality.

We reached out to Georgia Rose, Clinical Psychologist, for some best practices on how to support our friends and loved ones who are dealing with mental challenges. Here are some of her recommendations:

  1. If you offer to listen, then really listen. A non-judgemental ear during a difficult time makes a big difference.
  2. Be intentional about showing your support. Set aside time and space where you can give your undivided attention as they share.
  3. Allow the person to share only what they are comfortable speaking about. Avoid asking probing questions or being impatient with their process.
  4. Do not try to diagnose the person’s illness and do not try to replace expert advice. If your friend has received professional advice, do not discredit it.
  5. Seek to understand their condition so that you can be of greater support.
  6. You are human too so be honest with yourself if you feel overwhelmed, and gently let your loved one know that you are worried and think it would be in their best interest to seek professional support, if they haven’t already.
  7. Encourage them to practise self-care. Some self-care tips include:
    1. Colouring
    2. Going for a walk
    3. Meditation
    4. A Social Media Break
    5. Prioritizing sleep
    6. Eating healthily
    7. Praying
    8. Journaling

You may not be able to change their reality, but you can make it easier with the love and support you give.

The NHF provides subsidies on medication for major depression and psychosis. View the subsidies here: https://tinyurl.com/Major-Depression, https://tinyurl.com/Psychiatric-Conditions.

If you are living with any of these conditions sign up for the NHFCard to reduce out of pocket expenses. Also, if a loved one has been diagnosed, encourage them to become an NHF beneficiary. The NHF is here for you, and your family. For more information, visit our website on how to apply for the NHFCard and enrol today.

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An agency of the Ministry of Health & Wellness
NHF’s QMS is ISO – 9001:2015 Certified

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