Keep reading for 5 ways to help a loved one with a mental illness.
1. Understand the stigma.
Stigma is defined as a sign of disgrace or discredit, which sets a person apart from others. Mental illness, despite centuries of learning and the “Decade of the Brain”, is still perceived as an indulgence, and a sign of weakness. Many individuals who deal with a mental illness struggle with a sense of shame and because of that, an emotional detachment from other people.
2. Know that you’re not alone.
According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one out of four American families includes a member diagnosed with some type of mental illness. Additionally, one out of every 17 people is coping with mental illness in the United States at any given time. Let’s think about that for a moment! Look at the people around you. It is quite possible that at least one person that surrounds you has been diagnosed with a mental disorder/illness. Millions of individuals suffer with mental illness, yet lots of those people keep their illness to themselves because of the negative connotations attached to the term mental illness.
3. Always offer your fullest support.
But what if instead of being afraid to speak up about mental illness, we start to embrace it? What if instead of thinking negatively about those individuals who have a mental disorder, we offer understanding and comfort? What if instead of watching those who wrestle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts second guess and isolate themselves, we offer our company and emotional support? If we took these suggestions to heart, the appearance of mental illness could seriously begin to change.
4. Don’t be ashamed to express your emotions about the mental illness.
So, let’s crush the very being of stigma surrounding mental illness. Having a mental disorder doesn’t make one weak, it simply makes them human. No one asks to have depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc., but don’t resent or feel ashamed of the diagnosis. Be open, express emotions, ask for help, and consider the positives.
5. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Be the person who makes the stigma of mental illness a thing of the past. Be the change for a loved one with a mental illness that lifts the guilt and shame off every individual dealing with a mental disorder. Be the one who eliminates every negative thought!