According to the CDC, “More than 50% of the people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.”Mental health difficulties take on a variety of forms that can look like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or any other conditions. Some of these illnesses can even be debilitating. Mental health issues are not uncommon as most people like to believe. This blog will act as a guide for you when you are dealing with an individual who is suffering from a mental health condition. It is important to remember that mental health condition does not necessarily mean a full-blown panic disorder or schizophrenia, it can refer to a brief bout of anxiety or the inability to get certain thoughts out of your head.
Why is mental health important?
Caring about your mental health and talking about it is important for many reasons. Emotional and mental health is important because it is a vital part of your life and impacts your thoughts, behaviours, and emotions. Being healthy emotionally can promote productivity and effectiveness. If you have good mental health, you will perform better in school, work or caregiving. It plays an important part in the health of your relationships and allows you to adapt to changes in your life and cope with adversity. Talking about your mental health with people who understand (family, friends, mental health professionals) can serve as an outlet for your feelings, can help you feel better, and reduce stress.
So, when under stress, do confess!
How can I help someone facing a mental health issue?
Issues related to mental health can impact different people in different ways. If you start to see changes in your overall happiness and relationships, there are always ways to get the support you want. Here are some ways you can get help:
- Connect with friends, and family — Reaching out and opening up to other people in your life can help provide emotional and informational support. It is important to reach out for help when you need it. Humans are social creatures and we are bound to seek connection in happy as well as sad times in our lives. Talking to others boosts our self-esteem, and ability to empathize with others, it gives us a feeling of belongingness and makes us better able to cooperate and trust others.
- Learn more about mental health — There are many resources you can turn to for learning more about emotional, social as well as psychological health. The more you educate yourself about mental health, early signs of a mental health condition, treatment options, etc the more likely you will be able to help someone.
- Take a mental health assessment — An assessment can help determine if stress, anxiety, or depression may be having an impact on your or someone else’s life. Doctor On Demand offers a free and private online mental health assessment that you can take at any time.
- Talk to a professional — If you start to feel like your emotional health is starting to impact you, or someone you care about it, maybe time to reach out for extra support. In such a case you can contact either a psychologist or a counsellor. Also, it is not important to reach out when the symptoms become intense or unbearable. You can consult or seek professional help just because you want to.
Some tips for talking about Mental Health with your loved one:
- Set time aside with no distractions-It is important to provide an open and non-judgemental space with no distractions if you are looking for someone to share about their mental health or if you want to share about yours.
- Let them share as much or as little as they want to-Let them lead the discussion at their own pace. Don’t put pressure on them to tell you anything they aren’t ready to talk about.
- Don't try to diagnose or second guess their feelings-Try not to make assumptions about what is wrong or jump in too quickly with your diagnosis or solutions.
- Keep questions open-ended-Try to keep your language neutral. Give the person time to answer and try not to grill them with too many questions. Open-ended questions might sound like “You seem a little stressed lately, would you like to share what’s bothering you?”
- Talk about self-care-Talk about ways of de-stressing or practicing self-care and ask if they find anything helpful. Exercising, having a healthy diet, and getting a good night's sleep can help protect mental health and sustain wellbeing.
- Listen carefully to what they tell you-It may come as a surprise but sometimes listening to another person talking about their problems can help them greatly. Just knowing that there’s someone who cares for and loves them, can make them feel better.
- Offer them help in seeking professional support and provide information on ways to do this
- Know your limits-Give yourself time to rest and process what they have told you or what’s happened. Try to help them but do not bombard them with directive or personal questions that might harm them instead of doing any good.
There are some things you should never say to a person suffering from a Mental Health Issue
If you are unsure of what to say to a person who is let’s say depressed or has an anxiety disorder it’s better to not say anything. Think of it this way, if you’re meeting someone who just had surgery, you wouldn’t say- “ It could have been worse, or you’re being overdramatic, I bet it’s not that bad”. An issue or problem in any part of the body is equally legitimate and you should think before you say something to anyone (let alone a person with a mental health issue) because words do have power and we all are aware of incidents where we were hurt by something another person said. A small list of things to not say to someone suffering from a mental health issue includes:
- You don’t look depressed/ anxious/ like you have _________
- Other people have it worse
- You are being selfish ( mental illness consumes a person’s thoughts and actions)
- It’s all in your head (It is, but it doesn’t make it irrelevant)
- I think you’re overreacting, it’s not a big deal
A WORD FROM SOCIALLY SOULED
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Emotional wellness means being able to express and understand your own emotions, feeling content most of the time, saying no without feeling guilty, and being able to relax. Psychological well-being includes self-acceptance, meaning in life, autonomy, and personal growth. Social well-being includes positive emotions and meaningful social relationships and connections. All these together are the important aspects of mental health that are important for a person to feel mentally healthy.