If a loved one has been diagnosed with a severe mental disorder, you might be seeking ways to provide assistance. Recent advancements in therapy, medications, and community services have allowed many individuals to lead independent, fulfilling lives. Nonetheless, the support from family, friends, and peers remains a vital component of the recovery journey.
Navigating Support Challenges
Numerous approaches exist to aid someone with a mental disorder in navigating the treatment landscape and progressing toward recovery. Emotional and practical support is crucial in any relationship. Sometimes, this involves family and friends providing transport, financial aid, or housing assistance. Regardless of the form it takes, your compassion, support, and respect are significant.
Understanding the appropriate timing and method to offer support can be challenging. While your instinct might be to protect your loved one, it’s important to remember that learning to manage personal matters, pursuing goals, and gaining independence are critical for the recovery from mental disorders.
Many people with mental disorders are on medications to manage their symptoms. For those with severe disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, this often includes antipsychotic drugs. Despite improvements over the past decade, these medications can have side effects leading to additional issues that might exacerbate the individual’s condition, causing them to stop their medication.
Those with severe mental disorders might feel uneasy discussing their symptoms, emotions, or medication side effects with family and friends. However, an essential part of recovery is effective, two-way communication between the patient and physician – what Mental Health America refers to as a Dialogue for Recovery. A respectful Dialogue for Recovery with a healthcare team can significantly aid in your loved one’s recovery process.
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Here are several guidelines for aiding someone close to you:
- Educate Yourself: Learn about the illness, symptoms, and medication side effects. Use resources like Mental Health America, libraries, and the internet.
- Recognize Feelings: Understand that a diagnosis can be frightening or relieving; listen and acknowledge feelings without dismissal.
- Active Participation: Encourage your loved one to be an active member of their treatment team.
- Patience with Medication: Acknowledge that finding the right medication and dosage might take time.
- Beyond Medication: Understand that recovery involves self-esteem, social support, and a sense of contributing to society, not just medication adherence.
- Encourage Dialogue for Recovery: Urge your loved one to communicate openly with their healthcare provider about any issues.
- Use of Tools: Assist with the Antipsychotic Side Effects Checklist if desired and encourage its use in healthcare appointments.
- Offer Accompaniment: Offer to accompany to appointments and discuss concerns with the healthcare team if your loved one wishes.
- Respect Privacy: Always maintain respect for the individual’s need for and right to privacy.
By organizing the information in this way, it’s easier to understand and follow the steps and considerations important in supporting someone with a mental illness.