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Living With a Mentally Ill Person

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Providing Support to a Mentally Ill Person

Mental illness makes it difficult for them to take care of themselves, so we need to know how to properly support them. When in doubt, look for mental health services such as local social services, mental health treatment facilities, or a nearby community mental health team.

Navigation: How Mental Illness Can Affect Relationships, Living With a Mentally Ill Person, How Mental Health Professionals Can Help With Various Mental Illnesses, Rehab Is Your Best Chance


Mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and eating disorders can have a significant impact on an individual.

Substance use disorder is also considered a mental health problem. But just like addiction, mental health problems not only affect the individual but also the people around them. A mental health condition can put a strain on a person’s relationships, especially with their loved ones like their family members and friends.

It is therefore important to talk about how to cope when a loved one has a serious mental health disorder. Mental illness makes it difficult for them to take care of themselves, so we need to know how to properly support them. When in doubt, look for mental health services such as local social services, mental health treatment facilities, or a nearby community mental health team.

Proper mental health services are needed so they can recover from their symptoms. But while they are undergoing treatment, you can give them the support that they need to make recovery easier for them.


How Mental Illness Can Affect Relationships

Serious mental illnesses are not necessarily the result of bad parenting. While toxic relationships may contribute to its development, there is also a biological component that factors into it. This is not something that a parent, friend, or family member can prevent.

It is perfectly normal to feel unpleasant emotions after a diagnosis for mental illness. It is normal for people to feel hurt, guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed by behaviors that are difficult to understand and deal with, especially if it’s your loved one. Most parents engage in some degree of self-blame. However, the best thing to do is to help your loved one through it.

Mental health problems can have a significant impact on your relationship, and the severity of this impact can vary based on the type of mental illness and other factors. It can create communication challenges because people with mental health problems often struggle to express their feelings, thoughts, and needs properly. This can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and even conflicts in the relationship.

Some mental illnesses can cause emotional numbness, detachment, or a general sense of emptiness. This emotional distance can strain the emotional connection between you and your loved one. Sometimes it is difficult for them to relate to other people’s experiences due to their own mental state. In other cases, they may detach themselves from other people out of frustration or loneliness because they are struggling with their mental health symptoms.

It is normal for a mental illness to change a person’s behavior. For instance, a person with depression might become withdrawn, irritable, or lethargic. These changes can be confusing and distressing for their loved ones.

Supporting a loved one with a mental illness can be emotionally and physically demanding. Caregiver stress can arise due to the added responsibilities and uncertainty surrounding the cause of the mental illness.

In some cases, a partner or family member might need to take on additional roles and responsibilities to support the person with a mental illness. This can disrupt established dynamics within the relationship and family structure. It can also be a source of added stress for the person taking on the additional responsibilities.

Finally, the cost of mental health treatment, therapy, and medications can lead to financial stress for both the individual with the mental illness and their family. This financial strain can contribute to overall relationship stress.

By understanding the different ways mental health problems can strain relationships, you can approach the situation with more empathy and understanding.

Remember that while mental illness can strain relationships, it’s not the sole determinant of their outcome. With understanding, effective communication, education about the mental illness, and seeking professional help, relationships can adapt and even grow stronger in the face of these challenges. Supportive relationships and a strong social network can play a crucial role in the recovery process for someone with a mental illness.

Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to help your loved one who is suffering from a mental health condition.


Living With a Mentally Ill Person

Parents are usually the ones who have to readjust their expectations for their child’s future when they develop a serious mental illness. While these feelings are difficult, they are also normal.

When dealing with a loved one who has a mental health disorder, it is important to continue taking care of yourself. Spend more time on self-care rather than self-blame because your loved one needs your help. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so if you find yourself getting emotionally drained, you need to take some time for yourself instead of spending all your energy on your family member. Your own health is just as important.

If you have several children and one of them has a mental illness, you may find yourself focusing all you time and energy on that one child. You have to make sure everyone is still getting the same care and attention from you. Even healthy siblings may feel frustration and anxiety if you start caring about them less. If you are giving them additional responsibilities to help one, make sure you set time aside to tell them how much you appreciate their help.

Having a loved one who is struggling with a mental health problem may be tough, but clear and honest communication between family members can go a long way. Encourage them to express their feelings and thoughts without judgment. Similarly, express your own feelings and concerns in a compassionate manner.

You have to open up the lines of communication within your family and foster an environment of openness so that everyone can feel comfortable talking about these difficult topics. Do not be afraid to ask both your ill and healthy loved ones how they feel. This can help rebuild trust and make way for stronger connections within the family.

Communication can be improved by educating yourself. Despite our best intentions, sometimes we may say or do things based on our preconceived notions regarding mental health disorders. Unfortunately, there is still stigma surrounding this topic. This can prevent people from seeking treatment out of shame, fear, or guilt. Learn about the specific mental illness your loved one is dealing with. Understand its symptoms, triggers, and treatment options.

This knowledge can help you provide better support and reduce misunderstandings. Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand the challenges they face due to their mental illness. This can help you respond with greater compassion and patience.

Remember that mental illnesses are not the person’s fault. Avoid blaming or judging them for their condition.

You also have to set realistic expectations. Understand that their behavior might be influenced by their mental illness. Do not take everything personally. Instead, respect their need for personal space and boundaries. At times, they might require alone time to cope with their emotions.

Mental health recovery is often not linear, so it usually requires a lot of patience. There might be ups and downs along the way. Provide consistent support through their highs and lows. Acknowledge and celebrate the person’s progress and achievements in their journey towards managing their mental illness. Small victories can be significant milestones. This also creates positive reinforcement, which can motivate them to stay on the right track.

Help them maintain connections with their friends and family. Isolation can worsen mental health issues, so encourage positive social interactions.

If possible, offer practical help with daily tasks. Sometimes, mental illnesses can make it challenging for individuals to manage basic activities. By helping out with some of their responsibilities, they can focus more energy on their recovery.

If the person is receiving professional treatment, encourage them to follow their treatment plan, including taking medications and attending therapy sessions.

Living with a mentally ill person can present challenges, but it can also create opportunities for growth. However, this requires empathy, understanding, patience, and a willingness to learn how to support and care for the individual.

Keep in mind that every individual is unique, and so their needs and preferences may vary. What works for one person might not work for another. Be flexible, adaptable, and willing to learn from your experiences. If the situation becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek advice from mental health professionals or support groups.

How Mental Health Professionals Can Help With Various Mental Illnesses

Helping a loved one through their mental illness can go a long way. But getting them professional support is even more important because their condition needs proper treatment.

Mental health professionals play a crucial role in promoting and supporting a person’s mental health and well-being. Their expertise and services offer various benefits to individuals dealing with a wide range of mental health issues.

For starters, they can offer expert guidance. Mental health professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and counselors, are trained to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. They provide evidence-based interventions and guidance tailored to each patient’s specific needs.

A mental health professional can accurately assess mental health conditions through diagnostic tools and assessments. This is essential for developing an effective personalized treatment plan.

The best treatment plans are personalized because as we mentioned earlier, everyone is unique. People experience mental health problems in different ways. They may experience challenges, symptoms, and effects that are totally unique to them. Mental health professionals create personalized treatment plans that address the unique challenges and goals of each patient. These plans may include therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and coping strategies.

Once a treatment plan is in place, patients can undergo various therapeutic techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based therapies, psychotherapy, family therapy, couples therapy, and more.

These interventions help people manage their symptoms, learn and improve their coping skills, and enhance their emotional well-being. Professionals teach individuals valuable skills to manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. These skills can include relaxation techniques, communication skills, problem-solving strategies, and emotion regulation.

Treatments are done in a safe, supportive, and nonjudgmental environment. Therapists can enable their patients to freely discuss their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. This environment fosters trust and encourages individuals to explore their emotions.

Talking to a mental health professional can help patients feel validated and understood. It lets them know that their experiences are valid and that they are not alone in their struggles. They can potentially recognize the triggers and stressors that contribute to their mental illness.

Psychiatrists and other medical professionals can even prescribe and manage medications for mental health conditions when appropriate. They also monitor the effectiveness of these medications and adjust treatment as needed.

As you can see, there are plenty of benefits from working with mental health professionals for the treatment of your loved one. They can educate patients about mental illness and teach them preventive strategies. In case of an emergency, they are also trained to provide immediate support to individuals experiencing severe distress. This may involve de-escalation techniques, safety planning, and coordinating emergency interventions if necessary.

Mental health professionals provide ongoing support, helping individuals navigate life’s challenges and changes. This support is particularly valuable for individuals with chronic mental health conditions.

Overall, mental health professionals play a crucial role in improving individuals’ mental health by offering expert guidance, evidence-based interventions, emotional support, and valuable skills for managing and maintaining well-being.

If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health, look for a treatment facility near you today and learn more about the available treatment options. Your journey to recovery starts today.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.



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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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