It can be hard to know what to do when you notice that a loved one may be suffering from a mental health issue. As someone close to them, you may be uniquely attuned to notice when their moods, habits or routines change. Consider these tips for how to approach your loved one to help.
- Listen — By being open and receptive, you can better understand what your loved one is going through and what they’re experiencing. Further, sometimes it is helpful for your loved one to simply be heard. Listening to how they’re feeling will help them feel validated and understand that they are not alone. Providing this type of support can truly benefit someone who is suffering from a mental health issue.
- Express your concerns — Between work, family and personal responsibilities, people may be struggling to keep it all together. They may even be surprised to hear that others can tell something is wrong. Be sure to express what you’ve been observing and your concerns in a calm, loving environment without placing blame. By starting a conversation with your loved one, you make it easier for them to open the door to treatment and get the help they need.
- Be supportive in your responses — It can be scary for a loved one to share how they’re feeling. When they do, thank them for being open and acknowledge that it can be difficult to share. Remind your loved one that there are people who care about them, they don’t have to suffer alone, and that there is treatment available that can help them feel better. These simple truths can be easy to forget in the midst of suffering. Always remember: mental health issues are not a choice, and statements such as ‘get over it’ or ‘try harder’ should be avoided.
- Offer to reach out for help together — One of the hardest parts of seeking help is often taking the first steps. Having someone close for support and encouragement can help your loved one through this process. Seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist can help them determine their best course of action to start feeling better. Doctor On Demand offers video visits with psychologists and psychiatrists that can be had from the comfort of home, 7 days a week.
Whether you are starting the initial conversation with a loved one, or if your loved one has already disclosed that they have a mental health issue, your support will truly help.
Reduced costs may be available through your insurance plan or employer. Learn more or schedule a virtual visit at Doctor On Demand.
About the author
Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi is a board-certified adult psychiatrist who passionately believes access to mental health treatment should be available to everyone. She completed her undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins University, followed by medical school and residency training at New York University School of Medicine. She then completed a fellowship in Public Psychiatry at Columbia University. She has also done research on women’s mental health issues. Her approach to treatment is patient-centered and recovery-focused, dedicated to reducing mental health stigma and providing treatments that help patients maintain the quality of life they deserve.