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Most people are familiar with and affected by mental illness or know someone who is struggling. When our loved ones are impacted up close and personally by a mental health condition, our support can be a lifeline to them on their journey to wellbeing. There are a number of ways that we can offer meaningful, compassionate support to those in our lives who need it.
Gaining knowledge and understanding about the specific mental health challenges that our loved ones are facing is an important first step. This can help deepen our empathy, our ability to understand what they might be experiencing. In this way we become able to offer more informed support.
Practise Judgement-Free Listening
Sometimes when we see those we care about suffering, we want to swoop in and help fix things. When unsolicited, our solutions or advice can feel like judgment when what is really needed is a safe place to share thoughts and feelings. It can be hard to simply listen. But, our judgement-free presence and listening ear provide reassurance that they can share their experiences openly. Being clear that our love and support is unconditional is vital.
It is necessary to honour both their boundaries and ours. If they need some time and space, respect this rather than take it personally. Likewise, while it is important to let our loved ones know that our support is unconditional, it may be necessary to set boundaries to honour our own self-care, so that we can show up to them in the healthiest way possible.
Lean into Resources
Encourage them to consider all of the resources at their disposal:
- Professional Help: If they don’t have a therapist or psychiatrist, encourage them to access this support and, if appropriate, offer to accompany them to appointments.
- Friends, Family, and Community: Help them make a list of those in their lives with whom they can connect when struggling, and if needing support or a distraction.
- Self-Care Habits: Encourage them to lean into habits or rituals in their lives that have supported them in the past. Taking care of our physical well-being can have a profound, positive impact on our emotional and mental well-being. Proper nutrition to fuel and hydrate the body, daily physical movement, and sufficient sleep all play a significant role in our journeys through mental-health challenges.
- Crisis Helplines: Ensure that they and we have easy access to a local 24/7-crisis helpline. When family or friends are not available or do not feel like an option, a helpline can provide the immediate support needed in times of distress.
Interested in learning more about supporting a loved one with mental illness? Check out these resources:
Check out these resources:
If you are looking to connect further or receive support around habits or a mental health concern, please Contact Us at 250-718-9291 or email us at email@example.com.
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Written by: Miriam Desjardins, MACP
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