top of page

Supporting a Loved One with Mental Illness: What to Do and What Not to Do

Mental illness is a serious issue that affects millions of people around the world. The unfortunate truth is that many people still feel ashamed to admit they struggle with their mental health. So, if you know someone dealing with mental health issues, you may feel unsure about what to do or say. However, showing support and being there for them when they need it can make a world of difference. Here, we will discuss some of the things you can do and avoid doing when supporting a loved one with mental illness.

Do listen

Listening is the first important step when supporting someone with a mental health issue. It might sound simple, but a lot of people don’t do it, making the person feel invalidated and unheard. It’s essential to give them your undivided attention, avoid distractions, and let them speak freely without interrupting. Listening this way shows that you care and that they are not alone.

Don’t dismiss their feelings

Regardless of how trivial their worries seem, try to avoid dismissing their feelings or telling them to “just get over it.” Mental illness is a very real thing, and their concerns are valid, so try to use empathy instead of negating their feelings. Acknowledge that what they are feeling may be difficult for them and support them instead.

Do provide support in practical ways

When people are dealing with mental illness, everyday tasks can become overwhelming for them. As such, it is important to offer practical support, especially since they may not have the energy to ask for help. Help with things like grocery shopping, cleaning, or even taking care of their pets, and they will appreciate it more than you know.

Don’t make assumptions about their mental illness

Mental illness affects people differently, and what works for one person may not work for another. Making assumptions about their diagnosis or how they should feel can further stigmatize them. Ask questions instead of assuming, and be honest and open-minded about what they are experiencing.

Do educate yourself

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to educate yourself on mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. Doing this shows that you are interested in understanding what they are going through and willing to support them through their journey. Attending workshops or online classes can help you become aware of how to help your loved ones while also making you more understanding to others dealing with similar issues.

Supporting someone with mental health issues is not always easy, but showing that you are willing to help and support them is crucial. It's essential to listen, avoid dismissing their feelings, offer practical support, avoid making assumptions, and educate yourself. Your support can play a huge part in helping them recover and find the strength to keep fighting. Make them feel heard, loved, and supported, and the difference will be life-changing. With these insights, you can begin to make a difference for someone dealing with mental health issues.

Northeast Missouri Health Council, Partners for a lifetime of health

Medical, Dental, and Behavioral Clinics in Kirksville, Missouri, Macon, Missouri, Milan, Missouri, and Kahoka, Missouri. Visit our website to find the nearest clinic to you.



bottom of page