How to Help Those Who Suffer

Mental disorders are a significant and growing problem in society today, affecting over 450 million people worldwide. In the United States, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in five adults experience a diagnosable mental illness in any given year. While it may be difficult to understand what someone with mental illness deals with on a daily basis, there are ways that those of us with- out the disorder can help support those who do suffer.

One of the most important things that family, friends, and other supporters can do for those dealing with mental illness is offer companionship. Although it’s important for those with mental illness to seek medical treatment, it can be immensely beneficial for them to spend time with people who can act as a source of emotional support. During times of trouble, having someone to talk to, to lend an ear to, to share experiences with, or simply to hang out with can help alleviate the loneliness and isolation that often accompany mental health struggles.

It is also important to understand that any form of support must be on the individual’s terms and tailored to their specific needs. One size does not fit all, and every individual has different needs and reactions to various forms of support. This could include spending time together, providing advice or guidance, lending a listening ear, or even going on adventures or outings together.

In addition to companionship, another essential form of support is to learn the basics about mental illness. Educating oneself on the disorder the patient is dealing with and asking questions is a great way to broaden one’s understanding of what they are going through. While it is important to remember that each individual’s experience is different – and to not make assumptions – it can be beneficial to be able to provide facts, provide resources, and validate one’s experience.

It is also necessary to ensure that one respects the individual’s boundaries. Every person has different needs and assorted ways of dealing with their situation, so it is necessary to listen to any needs or requests the patient has and to seriously consider it. Proper boundary setting is also beneficial for the mentor, as it is essential to make sure they are not doing too much and ending up emotionally drained or worse, burn out.

Finally, it is important to take care of oneself as well. It can be a draining experience to provide support to those who are struggling with mental health, and so the mentor needs to make sure to check in on themselves on a regular basis. This could include getting enough rest, eating properly, exercising, attending therapy if necessary, and responding to one’s emotional needs properly.

Supporting someone with mental illness is a noble cause, but one must understand the stress and strain it can put on them. Mentorship should never be taken lightly, and it is important to follow the above tips in order to provide the best support possible. With understanding, care, and proper boundary setting, those with mental illness can end up with a better, brighter future.

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