Knowledge is power. Empower yourself or someone you love.
If you know someone you love that lives with a mental illness, you can help. If the individual is someone in your family, you may want to start by finding out as much information as you can about the specific brain-based illness that your loved one is challenged with.
Access mental health organizations that are located in your area via personal contact and/or the web. Speak openly to a professional about your concerns for your loved one and ask questions. Keep a log of your inquiries and the information you have gathered. Whenever possible, accompany your loved one to his or her visits with their primary medical professionals; including physician, psychiatrist, neurologist and/or counselor. By doing so, you have the greatest chance of supporting your loved one through difficult periods of recovery.
If you have a friend who is suffering from mental health issues, you can help. If the individual has already been diagnosed with a brain-based illness and receives treatment, you can provide encouragement and support so that he/she maintains treatment. Be positive and be a good friend. Remember that social situations may be especially difficult. Most importantly, take the time to listen to the person who carries a diagnosis of mental illness. Listen to their thoughts, their fears, their feelings, and wishes. By listening, you offer the kind of hope that is oftentimes a dwindling notion in the mind of a person who is challenged with a brain-based illness. If someone is in crises, stay with them until they are linked to professional help.
One in five people will experience a significant mental illness at some point in their lifetime. We will need the help of our friends and family, if it were to happen to one of us. It takes a community to support an individual. We are all we have…YOU AND I!