Are you concerned about the mental health of someone close to you? Do you wonder if your concerns are warranted and if so how to help?
Friends and family members are often the first to recognize mental health needs of others.
According to The Campaign to Change Direction, nearly one in every five people, or 42.5 million American adults, has a diagnosable mental health condition. Half of all cases of mental health disorders begin by age 14. Only 38% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents receive needed treatment. Friends and loved ones can make a big difference.
First, familiarize yourself with the Five Signs that may mean someone is in emotional pain and could benefit from help. These signs include:
- Personality change
- Poor self-care
You can learn more about the Five Signs at http://www.changedirection.org/know-the-five-signs/. If someone that you care about is exhibiting one or more of these signs and it is interfering with one or more areas of their daily life, they might benefit from professional help.
Before you approach your loved one, take some time to assess your personal beliefs and values surrounding mental health and seeking help for mental health problems. Based upon your self-reflection, you might need to lead the conversation with self-disclosure involving how you have grown in your own awareness of the importance of mental wellness.
Let the person know that you are available to help in whatever way is needed. Help comes in many forms, each as important as another. Be prepared to share some general facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that is not true. A well-known mental health myth is that if people try hard enough, they can “snap out of it”. There are many factors that play a role in mental health including family history of mental health problems, biological factors such as genes, physical illness, injury or brain chemistry, life experiences including in some cases trauma or history of abuse.
A good way to help your friend or family member feel at ease is to explain that it might help to talk with someone who is not part of the family or circle of friends. Understand that it might take more than once to approach your loved one and offer your support. The bottom line is that no matter how much knowledge you possess, speaking from the heart with unconditional support is the best way to show your care and concern.
Emily Tonn, RMHCI