Learn about their diagnosis.
Every mental illness is different so every person needs a different approach. It can be very affirming when your loved ones take the time to learn about your diagnosis and the way in which it effects you. Having a better understanding of your loved one will help you make sense of their behaviours and allow you to approach them sensitively.
Be there for them and listen to them.
The most important thing a person with a mental illness needs is someone to listen to them without judging. Sometimes all it takes is your presence. Check in on your friends and family regularly and spend time with them when you can. It can make all the difference when you know there is someone there for you.
Have a plan for a crisis.
Mental illnesses can sometimes lead to dangerous situations such as suicide. It is important to have a plan in case your loved one is a harm to themselves or other people. Your plan can include ways to distract your loved one and a list of people to call in case of an emergency. Sometimes it will be necessary to also call crisis and emergency services.
Help them get professional help.
Even though we would like to be able to help our loved ones through difficult situations, it is important that they also seek professional help. Mental illnesses can be treated with the appropriate professional care. It may help if you can accompany them to their initial appointments.
Take care of yourself.
Taking care of someone else who is suffering can impact our own mental health. Make sure you have your own coping strategies. Establish healthy boundaries with your loved ones. Make sure your loved one has people other than you that they can contact when they need it. This is another reason why professional help will be beneficial for them.
Lastly, people with mental illnesses require patience from their loved ones. It can be frustrating and challenging at times and you may not always be treated fairly. You have to remember that the person you know and love is still there. They just require your patience and kindness to get back to who they truly are.