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Unread 02-04-2013, 10:38 AM   #1
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Default How You Can Help a Mentally Ill Person

I am not a professional. However, as a person who has struggled with mental illness for 15 years, I have some useful tips for people who want to help their mentally ill family member or friend. These tips are based on my own experience having a mental illness and the problems I've encountered when others try to "help."

If I could give advice to family and friends of mentally ill people, I would tell them if you want to help a depressed person, be empathetic, patient, and kind. Don't ignore the mental illness and pretend it doesn't exist. But don't try to solve it for the person either.

Make brief contact from time to time to let the ill person, and let them know they are loved. Send an occasional card, or make a brief phone call to let them know they are thought about. Invite the depressed person out for a meal or to movie. Don't feel slighted if they don't take you up on your offer. Depression is debilitating and people with it often feel exhausted. If you make an effort to encourage and they don't respond, don't give up. Just keep letting them know you care.

Don't criticize them or blame them for being ill!! Realize that mental illness is a real illness, just like heart disease or diabetes. You wouldn't criticize a heart patient, telling them to "stop having heart attacks! You could stop having them if you would just try harder!" So don't load a depressed persondown with blame and criticism when they are already feeling low and carrying a heavy burden. Don't add to the burden; help lift it with your kindness and empathy.

Above all, if you don't have mental health training, or a substantial amount of knowledge about mental illness, never try to play therapist or try to force that person to solve their depression the way you think they should. Instead, encourage them to get professional help from those trained to understand mental illness.

If you believe your family member or friend is suicidal and/or in danger, don't just ignore it and hope it will go away. Talk to them about it. Ask them if they have plans to end their life. Ask them if think they need to go to the hospital. It's best if you allow them to decide. But if you believe they are not capable of making a good decision because they are too depressed, and you think they are in true danger, take them to the hospital or call 911. They may be upset or angry about it, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 10:41 AM   #2
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Default Re: How You Can Help a Mentally Ill Person

PS - It never hurts to do some reading about mental illness either. Many people take time to read and learn about hobbies and things they enjoy. Isn't your mentally ill friend or family member worth that much? Why not take some time from your usual activities to learn more about their illness and how you can be supportive?
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Unread 02-04-2013, 11:58 AM   #3
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Default Re: How You Can Help a Mentally Ill Person

It's better safe than sorry-i like to say that this is so true, i remember when i used to get taken in the hospital by abublance every once in a while when i was really sick.We'v got it down to a joke now as some of my relatives can see they did good in taking me there or ambulnce, because at the same time that i was refusing the whole thing in my head, i see now that i did need the hospital in hindsight, now that i am old enough and wiser, i can accept it and thank every one of the people paramedics and others who helped me and would love to thank them. They were people i didn't even know. I also thought they were just on power trips and didn't know why they were so concerned about me and it was none of their business. My birthday is coming up and before 25 i would look up into the glass of my life and now I'll be 52 looking down or back on my life and I can certainly say it was for the better good of everyone involved that i should have been taken to the hospital. Thank you everyone!avlady
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Unread 02-04-2013, 12:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: How You Can Help a Mentally Ill Person

I wish my family had this info when I was struggling with depresson in my teens. Most of my family ignored it and hoped it would go away, which only added to my isolation and lack of support. It is good info and thanks for posting it.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 12:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: How You Can Help a Mentally Ill Person

Above all, if you don't have mental health training, or a substantial amount of knowledge about mental illness, never try to play therapist or try to force that person to solve their depression the way you think they should. Instead, encourage them to get professional help from those trained to understand mental illness.

i think that's the 1 i agree with the most.. i can't count the times that people have tried to force their ways down my throat

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Unread 02-04-2013, 01:28 PM   #6
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Default Re: How You Can Help a Mentally Ill Person

Be understanding and kind - but sometimes there is a point of no return.... and hospitalization will help :[ It will not be easy... and this person may regret you for the next 10 years. Above all.... patience <3 Good luck
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Unread 02-04-2013, 01:35 PM   #7
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Default Re: How You Can Help a Mentally Ill Person

If you don't know what to say, listening is always a good idea.
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Unread 02-05-2013, 01:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: How You Can Help a Mentally Ill Person

I tend to get over empathetic and lose myself. Always remember to put your own demons first and foremost. To thine own self be true.
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Unread 02-07-2013, 12:42 AM   #9
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Default Re: How You Can Help a Mentally Ill Person

My mother has depression and I do listen to her problems and be patient and empathetic.I don't blame her for her depression at all. I think the reason why I'm able to do this is because I have a bit of depression too, though not as severe. I want someone to talk to but when my mother is already suffering and the rest of my family don't care and are always "busy". It's hard. I wish I had someone who I can talk to and is patient and empathtic as well... Thanks for sharing this, now I might better understand how to deal with my mother.
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Unread 02-08-2013, 10:42 PM   #10
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I wish I could be around understanding people, In years gone by no one ever took the time to try and understand me. I believe that is why I am alone today!
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