Supporting someone with mental health issues- Do’s & Dont’s
Emotional resources — that’s what you need when offering support to someone dealing with mental health issues. However, before offering support, we must be aware of what kind of support is required.
It’s hard to see someone immobilized with little to no progress despite pouring in every last ounce of love, care and support into their treatment. The truth is, it is not necessary to sacrifice all of your time and effort into treatment. What is required, is concise, specific action by the supporter.
Here are certain Do’s & Dont’s that will better help you step into the shoes of the supporter to support someone in their darkest hours:
Have a plan from the start
If you know someone is dealing with a crisis, it is a given that they will require support and a strong care network. The wellness plan will include contact number of family members, friends and therapists who can offer support. A list of known triggers and self-care activities should be carefully noted. Online support groups could also be included in the recovery plan.
Setting reasonable upfront expectations
You should avoid offering overextending high levels of the support for an indefinite period of time. This should be done by ensuring that the supportee understands your expectation from them. For instance, you can easily ask them to choose someone else also who can be in the team for offering emotional support. You must to work with them for the execution of the recovery plan.
Set clear boundaries
You should and must draw the boundaries. This is important, as keeping your emotional support within the limits will avoid burnout during recovery therapy. You can set limits by limiting the preferred mode of communication, the number of hours per day you wish to devote, the time period during which you will remain unavailable, or whatever is viable in the given circumstances.
Making decisions on their behalf
The common assumption is that the individuals dealing with mental health issue are not good in decision making. But, this is not true in all cases. Whenever possible, they should be included in the decision making process in decisions that impact them in particular. This act of taking their consent in the decision making process will help enhance their self confidence.
Avoid blame or shame
You may be tempted to criticize your supportee when they deviate from progress as planned. However, any unnecessary blame will not push them toward a faster recovery. It may even reduce motivation. Instead of criticising their choices, provide support and trust for their circumstances, whatever your opinions may be.
A person’s mental health condition is not a reflection of who they are as an individual. Our words have a great impact on people dealing with mental health issues, and therefore we must take steps to avoid patronising or demeaning them. Acknowledge that a person’s mental health crisis is only a singular aspect of who they are, and strive to connect to the person behind it.
Being a supporter to an individual dealing with mental illness may not be easy. It requires time, effort, and determination. However, always remember that your support will have an impact on someone, whether you are there to see the benefits being reaped or not. Your support is meaningful, but only if you provide it in a mature, efficient manner.