How to Talk with a Mental Health Elephant in the Room
Communicating with a person who is coping with the effects of an acute mental illness is challenging. It’s as if a sound-proof glass stands between the person suffering and the rest of the world. However, it is possible to break through that barrier.
During an episode, be it depression, mania or somewhere in between, friends and relatives can arm themselves with communication tools that are both helpful and effective.
Tips to Help you Communicate with a Loved One Who is Struggling:
- Keep calm, stay steady, and don’t forget to smile. Your friend or relative may feel uncomfortable around anyone right now. Self-isolation is quite common. Don’t take their lack of response personally and don’t give up on reaching out.
- Try not to start the conversation with what seems to the person to be accusations or warnings.
- After the small talk, calmly and quietly tell your loved one that you know things are tough for them right now. Let them know that they can count on you to be there for them with love and without judgment.
- Avoid the temptation to relate tales of other persons you know who seem to have a similar problem. It will confuse your message and will put your listener on the defensive.
- Don’t diagnose, recommend prescription drugs or mention possibilities like in-patient treatment. You may be incorrect and, in the worst case, frighten the person into avoiding mental health care.
- Be supportive if you can. Don’t promise actions you know you won’t be able to provide. If you can shop for them, help clean their house, or take them to appointments, offer to do so.
- Reach out for mental health help.
The experienced team of licensed mental health professionals at MidValley Health Care works with individuals to create for themselves a happier and healthier life. Call us today.