Do you want to know how to help a friend who has a mental illness? It can be hard to watch someone important to you struggle with a mental health disorder, especially when they either don’t realize they need help or seem unwilling to seek it. You don’t need to feel helpless because there are ways to help your friend. Start by learning the facts about mental health, how it’s treated, and how you can talk to the person you care about.
Types of Mental Illness
A big part of how to help a friend with mental illness involves knowing what types of mental illnesses exist. This can help a person have an idea of what’s wrong with their friend and open a conversation about it. Too often, someone suffering from a diagnosis like depression or bipolar disorder does not realize they have a bonafide mental health disorder. Knowing they can put a name to what’s wrong can open the door to accepting help.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there were nearly 53 million adults aged 18 and up in the U.S. in 2020 who have AMI (any mental illness). This is just over one in five people, making mental illness all too common in the population. The arrival of the pandemic raised those numbers, with studies still being done to ascertain how many people experienced the development or increase in symptoms of mental illness.
Some of the most common types of mental illnesses include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Someone looking to help their friend should encourage them to get a full evaluation of their mental health in order to understand what their diagnosis is and what kind of help they need.
How To Help a Friend With Mental Illness
Understanding mental health disorders and how they can be treated is an important part of how to help a friend with mental illness. From there, the person can open a conversation. Guidelines for this fall into some basic Do’s and Don’ts.
Things To Do to Help Your Friend
- Let your friend know you do not judge them and understand they have a legitimate health condition. Be part of a two-way conversation, and let them open up about how they feel and what steps they’d like to take. Fill in the gaps with the information you have about their condition or what it might be.
- Ask questions to help guide the conversation. Try questions like “How do you feel?” and “What do you need from me to help you get better?”
- Offer to help the person with daily tasks to ease their burden while they attend treatment sessions or take time to relax. These can include cooking, running errands, driving them to appointments, and house sitting if they need to go to a residential program.
- Be willing to have more than one conversation. Often, the first talk plants the seeds for someone to think about getting help. Follow-up conversations help push them to take action.
Things Not To Do
- Do not tell your friend if they just tried harder, they could improve their mental health on their own. They need professional care and willpower has nothing to do with it.
- Do not say you know how the person feels if you have not had the same mental health disorder. Having the blues is not the same as having full-blown depression, for example.
- Do not second guess their choices in getting care. If they find medications help them, do not offer anecdotes about how they were not successful for someone you know. Let them explore the care they get and see how it works for them.
Types of Treatment for Mental Health Disorders in Atlanta, GA
A variety of types of treatment that help a person manage and heal from a mental health disorder exist. Some people benefit by going into a residential program, which typically lasts for 30 days or longer. With this type of care, the person immerses themselves in 24/7 treatment designed to help them work on their mental health without distractions from the outside world.
Outpatient care can be done as a first approach or after completing residential care. Regular outpatient programs, intensive outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization programs provide varying levels of care that take place during the day. They range from two to seven days per week, depending on the individual’s needs.
Popular types of therapy that help aid in improving mental health include individual, group, and family therapy. Other more specific therapies include holistic therapy, ACT therapy, and learning to incorporate healthy eating and exercise. As well, medication can make a great deal of difference in how someone copes.
Contact New View About Mental Health Treatment in Atlanta, GA
Do you have a friend who clearly struggles with a mental health disorder and you don’t know exactly what to do to help them? It can be tricky to open a discussion with them, but it can also be the helping hand they need in order to take action. New View Wellness in Atlanta offers multiple types of outpatient therapy designed to help a person recognize and manage the symptoms of poor mental health. From there, they can improve their moods and live a more optimal life. If you would like more information on how to help a friend with mental illness, contact us now. We can help with ideas on how to talk to your friend and get them the help they need.