Happy summer time and welcome back to my blog! It feels great to be writing about my passion in mental health again. This blog’s topic will be about how to cope with and act appropriately when one has a friend or a relative with mental illness.
Mental illness is extremely common, as 1 in about 4 or 5 Americans has a treatable mental illness every year. That means that even if you don’t have a mental illness, chances are that you will know a friend or a relative with mental illness. From my personal experience, I have had several friends in recent years with cases of mental illness.
So what should you do if your friend or relative has a mental illness? My suggestion is to treat the situation as if your friend or relative has a serious physical illness. Encourage him or her to get help, and start with encouraging therapy before any medication treatment is involved. Personally, I have encouraged several of my friends to seek therapy when they were experiencing mental illness, and all of them have been grateful for going to therapy so far. Also encourage your friend or relative to take a mental health screening or questionnaire that will help to assess their state or severity of mental illness before they may need treatment.
If your friend or relative with mental illness refuses to seek help, then it is your responsibility to take charge. Emphasize to your friend or relative that mental illness should be treated as if it were a physical illness. Explain the science behind mental illness; mental illness exists because of an imbalance of chemicals in the brain which engender mental abnormalities and even physical dysfunction. Highlight the importance of therapy and potentially seeing a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication, as well as the importance of good physical exercise, sleep, and dieting to effectively treat the mental illness.
There are also support groups for people who have friends or relatives with mental illnesses. I know that the mental health nonprofit which I volunteer at, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), has a variety of support groups to attend for people who may not necessarily have mental illnesses but have a friend or relative with a mental illness.
If these aforementioned tactics also do not work, there are several other options. You should definitely call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center. Doing so will enable you to receive outside assistance in treating your friend or relative with mental illness. However, don’t be afraid to also call 911 if your friend or relative with mental illness is acting abnormally or dangerously or as a harm or threat to others.
In short, there are a variety of ways to help your friend or relative who may have mental illness to receive the help that he or she deserves. Don’t wait to help your friend or relative get help. Act promptly before matters get worse.
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