A quick guide to enlighten you on everything you need to know when supporting someone with mental illness.
If your job involves taking care of someone who is struggling with a mental illness, then you know how hard it can be to handle them. It is not surprising to see that most people prefer to avoid talking to them a lot. Why? Not knowing the right words to say when talking to them can make you say something that might offend them unknowingly.
Here are the things that you should and shouldn’t do when you are dealing with your patients with mental illness:
1. Listen to Your Patients with An Open Mind
When talking to someone with a mental illness, it’s crucial that you assure them they are not alone. Listen to them without being judgemental. Show them that you care and that you will support them until they get better. Doing that shows that you are trying to understand what they’re going through.
2. Ask Them Questions
You shouldn’t be afraid to ask them some questions. Your patients don’t expect you to understand what they are going through if they have not told you. However, make sure you ask your questions respectfully. Ask them how they are feeling every day. Sometimes they might not respond to some of your questions. You shouldn’t worry about that because even if they don’t reply, they know that you care.
3. Encourage Your Patients to Ask for Help
Make sure you take a step further to find out whether they are getting the care that they need. Doing so enables you to know when they are not getting enough attention, hence helping you to understand what you can do to serve them better. Always remind them that they will be fine as it encourages them to open up and tell you when they need your help.
4. Help Them with Their Daily Tasks
It can be challenging for someone with mental illness to perform even the simplest tasks. Assist your patients to wash their dishes, get out of bed, and also buy the things they need. Showing them the acts of kindness can help them stay positive and become even more open to you because they see you care.
5. Help Them Understand Their Condition
It’s crucial that you help your patients understand their mental illness. Doing that shows them that they are not alone and that there are other people with the same condition. By understanding that, they’ll know that they can also live a happy life with the illness and even recover from it.
1. Tell the Patients That You Know How They Feel
Taking care of patients with mental disease is not easy, and there may be times you might feel sad for them. However, avoid comparing your feelings to what they are going through. You might be trying to show that you are supportive, but it may be mistaken as you’re invalidating their experience.
2. Don’t Question Their Medication Decisions
Taking medicine can be quite scary for people with mental illness. Most patients find their right dosage of antidepressants, mood stabilisers, and anti-anxiety medication by trial and error. Therefore, as a caregiver, be supportive and patient with them while avoiding being judgemental as they undergo the process of finding the right medication for their condition.
3. Pressure Them to Keep Themselves Busy
Inviting your patients to a social event that you think might help them take their mind off their illness is a great idea. However, don’t expect them to accept your invitation every time. It’s essential that you agree with their decision when they decline your invite. By agreeing with what they decide shows them that you trust their choices. Pressuring them will only make matters worse.
4. Don’t Take Things Personally
It’s vital that you always remember that whatever your clients are suffering from is not your fault. So, make sure you support and love them expecting nothing in return. Taking things personally can hinder you from giving the care and love they need.
5. Don’t Tell Them to Cheer Up or That They Are Fine
Making such comments can humiliate patients. Their illness is something that they can’t just brush off. So, try and make them feel more secure and comfortable while avoiding saying things that might hurt their emotions.
Taking care of patients with mental illness can sometimes get frustrating and exhausting. It is crucial that you always put their condition first as it’s more important than your pride. Doing so will enable you to provide your patients with the care that they need to get through the healing process.