How To Help Someone With Mental Illness Without Being Overbearing


mental illness

Mental illness can be an extremely difficult thing to deal with. You know you need to help the person but aren’t sure how. Yet, at the same time, you are aware of the fact that you shouldn’t overstep your boundaries in helping them, either. It can be a fine line to tread as a result. In this article, we’re going to provide you with some tips and pointers on how to help someone with mental illness without being overbearing.

Ways to Help Someone With Mental Illness:

1. Knowing the Signs and Symptoms

Changes are normal. They happen to everyone, and this includes the people you care about. However, if the changes someone is going through are drastic (i.e., they’re not acting like themselves anymore), then it might be time to consider whether or not something is wrong with their mental health. Signs that your family member may have a mental illness and could need your help:

  • Sudden Changes in mood
  • Anxiety or panic attacks 
  • Sleep problems, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Changes in eating habits (either too much or too little) 
  • Lack of interest in daily activities
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Inability to focus, concentrate or make decisions
  • Irritability or aggression
  • Poor hygiene and grooming habits
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

One or two of these warning signs alone can’t predict a mental illness but may indicate a need for evaluation. If someone is experiencing several at one time and the symptoms are causing problems in the ability to work, study, or relate to others, your loved one should be seen by a mental health professional or a physician. People with suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming others require immediate attention.

When you notice an issue, it is important not to wait. Waiting and hoping your loved one will come to you for help, you might lose valuable time getting them support.

Talking to your loved one is often the first essential step when you know they are having a hard time. This way, you can learn what is troubling them and what things you can do to help.

2. Start A Conversation

Start a conversation

One of the hardest yet essential things you can do when trying to help your loved one is to talk to them. Open communication between the two of you works wonders to keep you in the know. Your loved one might be hesitant at first because they are afraid that you are going to judge them or think less of them. However, reassure them by letting them know how much their well-being means to you, how their happiness is imperative, and how they still mean the world to you. The following are a few tricks to help you begin the conversation:

  1. Set Time Aside With No Distractions – Make sure to talk to them in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted and where there are few distractions.
  2. Explain Your Concerns – Explain your concerns in a way that you know they will understand. Sometimes, it can be as simple as saying, “I’m worried about you,” or “I want to know what is going on so I can help” just make sure to avoid the phrase “You need help.”
  3. Listen – Listen to your loved one and respond positively if they are opening up. Try not to interrupt them, and don’t criticize them for talking about their feelings or sharing how they feel.
  4. Offer Help – When your loved one is ready, let them know that you want to help them and will be there to support them in whatever way they need.

Things to avoid saying during a conversation:

  • “Most people feel that way sometimes.”
  • “Pray about it.”
  • “Do you think you have a chemical imbalance?”
  • “It is all in your head.”
  • “You have no reason to feel that way.”
  • “You need to change your attitude.”
  • “You have the same condition as my (whoever).”

You should also be aware of the things to avoid doing during a conversation:

  • Criticizing, blaming, or yelling at them will only make matters worse.
  • Talking too fast, too loudly, and for too long. Pauses and silence are ok.
  • Making assumptions about them or their situation.
  • Making sarcastic or lighthearted comments about their condition.

3. Offer Your Loved One Help In Seeking Professional Support

If your family member’s mental health problems affect their daily life, they may benefit from further support. When you and your loved one are on the same page in the conversation, it is ideal to mention the importance of seeking professional help. This will allow them to talk about their condition with someone qualified to provide the care needed.

Assure them that you are more than willing to assist them in finding a therapist or support group. They may be reluctant at first, but do not give up on them. Keep encouraging them until they take the first step toward recovery. You can also explain that it is not a weakness to seek professional help. The fact that they are willing to admit their condition is a sign that they are ready to face their problem.

You can find a list of suggested therapists or support groups in your area. You can offer suggestions if they don’t feel comfortable with a therapist. They may need to meet with a few before they find someone that they trust and is best for them as well as their needs.

4. Be Patient

Once your loved one has already sought professional help and started treatment, it is important that you be patient. It takes time for the effects of treatment to take place. Don’t expect them to change overnight, but they may notice changes after a few sessions. What you can do is be a friendly ear. Being someone your loved one can talk to is the first step in their recovery.

5. Encourage Loved One To Follow The Treatment Plan

Encourage your loved one to follow the treatment plan. This might include providing transportation to appointments and reminding him to take his medication regularly.

When a loved one complains about treatment, try to validate their feelings while encouraging them to stick it out and follow the treatment plan.

It is not a good idea to offer to act as an intermediary between your family member and their therapist or treatment team. Encourage your loved one to actively advocate for themselves and share any concerns directly with their treatment providers.

6. Seek Support for Yourself

Seek Support

Looking after a loved one with a mental illness can be stressful and often mentally draining. This is when it is important to seek out your own support system. Talk to friends and family about how you are feeling, ask for help with things around the house or with childcare, and take some time for yourself by doing something fun, like going to a movie or visiting friends. Make sure you get enough rest, eat properly, and exercise regularly. If you are feeling overwhelmed or experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, consider talking to a professional therapist who can help you cope with your situation.

Final Thoughts

Suppose you have a loved one struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition. In that case, it is important to understand that they are not just “being dramatic” or trying to get attention from you. By educating yourself about the symptoms of these conditions and how they are diagnosed and treated, you can better support your family member through this difficult time.

Also, it is important to remember that you do not have to face this alone. There are many resources available, including mental health providers and support groups, which can help you and your loved one cope with the challenges of mental illness. Hanei Health Solutions has a team of experts who specialize in mental health.

Our therapists are here to offer you and your loved ones support, guidance, and the tools needed to overcome illness. We understand that each individual is different and has unique needs; therefore, we tailor our treatment plans specifically for each patient. If your loved one is experiencing signs and symptoms of mental health issues, we want to help. Please contact us today at 443-978-1330 for more information.


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