Struggling from a mental illness is never an easy feat to face. This is even more true when one is a college student and living day to day with a mental illness. And, if one is in college there is a high chance that they are living with someone. And this roommate may not be equipped or sure how to assist their friend with a mental illness. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can help your roommate who has a mental illness. Below are 10 ways you can help your roommate if they struggle from a mental illness:
1. Listen to them.
Their concerns may seem trivial to you, but to them they are all consuming. Let them know that they feel that way for a reason and try to work through their worries alongside them without judgement.
2. Surprise them with little things from time to time.
For me personally my day does a complete 180 when my friend or roommate shows up at my door with a snickerdoodle cookie or a slushy when they know I’m not feeling so great.
3. Schedule time to spend with them.
Having a schedule and sticking to it helps the recovery process move along much faster. Now, I’m not saying that you have to schedule your life around them but maybe set aside one night every other week to watch a movie and catch up so they don’t feel alone (even if they aren’t).
4. Speak reinforcing words to them.
One of the biggest things that hinders the recovery of those with mental illnesses is that they don’t feel like what they are feeling is valid. This does not mean that you have to validate their every worry, but every now and then tell them that it’s okay to feel the way they do.
5. Ask them questions.
If you don’t understand something about their mental illness–from the medication they take, to their therapy, to other various things–ask them straight up. Do not let your confusion become a barrier between the two of you.
6. Seek counseling for yourself.
It’s hard to be the companion of a person struggling from a mental illness. And one does not have to have a mental illness to receive counseling. Just talking freely to an unbiased listener can make a world of difference.
7. Try your hardest to battle against the stigmas you have grown up around.
People with mental illnesses are often portrayed as crazy people who should be locked up in a padded room. The majority of us do not fall under that category. Use your roommate/friend as a true example of what mental illnesses really are.
8. Make sure your roommate knows they are needed.
Many times a person with depression or anxiety (not the only mental illnesses) will believe that they aren’t needed in others’ lives and this strengthens their depressive and worrisome tendencies. Whether it is asking for their help on a small part of a project or their opinion on an outfit making them feel needed is crucial.
9. Learn what makes them happy.
Whether this be anime, or sour candy finding out what makes your roommate happy will allow you to find a way to connect with them and therefore help them through tough periods. Bringing up this topic will likely lighten their mood at least a little bit.
10. Understanding that sometimes there is nothing you can do.
That is the truth. Sometimes the best way to help your roommate who has a mental illness is to leave them alone, but before doing so ask something along the lines of “do you just need some alone time?” to make sure it is the right thing to do.