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Dos and Don’ts of Helping Someone With a Mental Illness

Helping someone you love that is struggling with a mental illness or addiction can be difficult. You may feel like you are walking a fine line with trying to help them but not overstep your bounds. Being there, just listening, is one of the best things you can do.

They will appreciate your kindness and support more than you know. There are a few things you should know, however, about how to approach caring for someone with a mental illness or addiction. Read on for more information about the dos and don’ts.

Do: Talk About It

It’s important to let your loved one talk about what they are going through. Sometimes they just need to get things off their chest, so try to be a listening ear. Sometimes, people think that talking about it will make the other person feel worse; this just isn’t the case.

Especially in the scenario where you think the person is considering suicide. Asking directly about it does not “plant the seed.” You need to be direct and honest with the person so that they will be direct and honest back. This could save their life.

Don’t: Ignore the Condition

One big thing you shouldn’t do is ignore the elephant in the room. Try not to pretend that everything is fine and dandy because you don’t want to feel uncomfortable. You also will not offend the person by bringing up their condition.

“To pretend it’s not happening, that’s one of the worst things you can do,” says Michelle Newman, director of the laboratory for anxiety and depression research at Penn State University. Newman spoke with Markham Heid of TIME Magazine for the story “How to help a friend or loved one.” “This can lead the person to feel like they can’t talk about it themselves or they’ll make the people around them uncomfortable,” Newman continues.

Furthermore, she says, ignoring the condition may make the person ignore it as well, so they will not reach out for help when they need it because they are embarrassed or don’t want to be a bother. Ignoring the situation doesn’t help, it only hurts.

These are two of the biggest dos and don’ts when it comes to caring for someone with a mental illness or addiction. Be open with the person so they will be open with you. Don’t be pushy, however, or try to minimize what they are going through. Villa Tranquil Recovery is here to help families during a crisis. Call us today at 214-799-3080. We can’t wait to speak with you!