Mental health is a tough topic to tackle. It may feel hard to know what to say when you have a loved one with mental illness. Should you bring up the topic or wait for them to open the subject? What is the “right” thing to say or the “wrong” thing to say? Do you offer advice or simply listen?
Letting your loved one know that you’re a safe place to talk about their thoughts and feelings is important, but how should you approach it? There isn’t one straightforward answer when it comes to knowing how to help someone with mental health issues. However, although every person is different, there are some do’s and don’ts when talking about mental health.
DO: Create a safe, calm space to have a conversation
Your loved one needs to feel safe and supported when talking about mental health. Be sure to talk with them in a calm, controlled space when you’re ready to have a conversation. It should be somewhere you both feel comfortable, such as their home, a park they enjoy, or while going for a walk. Consider where they feel the most at ease before starting the conversation.
DON’T: Start the conversation when you have a time constraint
Never start a conversation with a struggling loved one when you have somewhere to be soon after. You don’t want them to feel like an inconvenience, and you don’t want to feel pressed for time. Set aside an afternoon and leave yourself plenty of time for the conversation to unfold and move in whatever direction it needs to go without you feeling like you need to check your watch.
DO: Enter the conversation with an open mind
Entering a conversation with an open mind is one of the best ways to help someone with mental health issues. You never know where the talk might go, and keeping yourself open to whatever direction it heads is important. You may not be able to prepare for every possible thing your loved one brings up, but know that your conversation may take some unexpected twists and turns.
DON’T: Place blame on your loved one
Anyone wondering how to help someone with mental health issues knows that another important thing is never placing blame on them. People do not develop a mental illness because they are weak. Talking about mental health is tough enough without worrying someone will not understand. Mental illness can affect anyone, and blaming someone for their mental health is a fast way to eliminate their trust in you.
DO: Find some mental health treatment options
If your loved one hasn’t received mental health treatment in the past, finding some options before starting the conversation is a good idea. You never know when they might be ready to accept help, and it’s good to prepare yourself ahead of time. Facilities like Clearview Treatment Programs are a fantastic option for anyone living with mental illness. Our nationally recognized facility offers individualized programs for a wide range of mental health conditions. If you’d like to learn more about the treatment options at Clearview, call us at 310-455-5258 or submit an online contact form today.