Statistics show that around one in five Americans suffer from a mental illness of some kind.
Not all of these conditions will have catastrophic outcomes. However, one thing that most sufferers of mental illness have in common is a need for support from those around them.
Mental illness support can be difficult to get right. You want to be there for the person, but you don’t want to be an overbearing presence.
Let’s take a look at how to support a friend with mental illness the correct way.
How to Provide Mental Illness Support to a Friend
There are a number of things you should do if you suspect that someone close to you might be struggling psychologically.
Spot the Signs
A lot of people will be reluctant to tell anyone about their mental difficulties. Additionally, they might be very good at hiding the signs of their problem, putting on a brave face while around others.
However, there is usually some indication that something isn’t right. If someone close to you starts showing less interest in social engagement, starts consuming an unhealthy amount of alcohol or drugs, or exhibits some other negative behavioral change, it might be a sign that they are depressed or anxious. Learning to spot signs that there is a problem can help prevent catastrophic problems down the road.
Offer a Listening Ear
If someone tells you they are depressed or anxious, your first step should always be to listen.
However, this doesn’t mean you should try to solve their problem. You can listen and offer support without giving them advice or directions.
If they ask your opinion on something, of course, you should give it. However, it’s important to resist the temptation to judge, as this may only make them feel worse.
Help Them to Help Themselves
In more advanced cases of mental illness, professional help is often the only answer. While you should try to avoid confrontation as much as possible, a mental health specialist might be the only thing that will keep a depressed or anxious person from harming themselves.
Discourage Harmful Behaviors
As noted above, issues like depression and anxiety are often accompanied by substance abuse. While you shouldn’t try to intervene too extensively in anyone’s personal life, you should try to steer them away from behaviors like this as much as possible.
This can be a difficult balance to strike. If you feel you’re out of your depth, it’s usually best to encourage the person to seek professional help.
Being There When You’re Needed
No one wants to hear that a close friend or family member is suffering from psychological difficulties. However, if that does happen, you need to be prepared to offer the right kind of mental illness support.
The advice we’ve shared here should be useful for anyone who finds themselves in this position.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, or someone close to you is, you may need professional help. Contact us today to discuss the best course of action for you moving forward.