If you have checked out the latest e-books and courses available on the Daisies and Bruises website, you might have come across a mini course about talking to someone with a mental health condition. This is such an important topic, that I felt it needed its own blog post also!

This past year has been incredibly tough on all of us. Covid-19 has stopped us from seeing our most dearest and nearest, at a time when we needed them more than ever. Suicide rates have increased, mental health services worldwide are struggling, and it’s fair to say that most of us are feeling pretty deflated. It’s sometimes difficult to take care of ourselves, but thankfully self-care rituals and tips have helped. But what about those closest to us? How do we help them, at a time when they feel they have no one. This short blog post will highlight some key tips, techniques, phrases and more to help support someone with a mental health condition.

TALKING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH

HOW TO RESPOND IN A CRISIS

THINGS TO SAY

How do I give emotional support to the person I care for?

Offer to listen to the person you are supporting. Listening to someone doesn’t mean you have to say much back to them or come up with solutions to their issues. Sometimes they may find it helpful to just talk to you about their problems, and to know that you are there to listen. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about how they are feeling and listen to their answers. If they aren’t feeling great, ask if you can do anything to help. Make sure you don’t take on too much or that they aren’t overwhelmed.

How do I encourage the person I care for to eat well and keep active?

Diet, exercise and staying active are important for everyone. Staying active, if you have a mental illness can be especially important. It can help improve mood and can help with some of the side effects that medication causes. You could invite the person you care for to go for a walk, swim or to the gym. It can be helpful for you as well to have a routine of getting out and about. You could try and work on a diet and exercise plan with the person you care for. This will help to add routine and structure. If the person you care for can’t leave the house, you can ask them to do cleaning around the house. They can help prepare for meals or do home exercises. An unbalanced diet or eating too much or not enough can make getting better harder. You can ask your GP for a healthy diet plan which gives tips and recipe ideas to try out.

How can I help someone manage work and money?

Some people with mental illnesses will find it difficult to manage their money. For example, when someone with bipolar disorder has a manic episode, they may spend their weekly budget in one day. If someone cannot control their own money, you might want to think about ways to help them.
You could help someone manage their own money by:
– Creating a weekly budget.
– Planning what bills need to be paid using a schedule.
– Talking to a money advice service for further tips.

How can I help the person I care for stay independent?

When you care for someone, they can become very dependent on you. Over time the person you care for can rely on you for things they could do themselves. Think about giving them more chances to make decisions and do things for themselves. Over time they may become more comfortable making decisions, which may take some of the pressure off you.

Set up some boundaries. You can do this by deciding how much you can do and how much you want to do. Talk to the person you care for and try to agree boundaries together. Remember, once you set up these boundaries it is important to stick to them.
Talk about the skills the person you care for needs to focus on and agree goals. You can agree to show them how to do something and help them with it for a while until they are confident to do it alone. An example of this might be doing their own laundry or going to the shops. The person you care for may have support from a Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) or other mental health services. You could talk to their ‘care coordinator’ about their care plan. You can ask if they are doing anything to help them develop independent living skills. If the person is living on their own, you could ask about getting help from an occupational therapist or floating support.
You can encourage the person you support to use a personal budget to pay for services that could improve their day to day life. A personal budget is when social services assess their social care needs. They are then given money which they can choose to spend on services they need. Types of services could include computer classes or a gym membership. Choosing their own service can improve how they feel about themselves. Some services can also improve confidence and help to establish a routine.

How can I deal with difficult behaviour?

When supporting someone, you might find some of the things they do difficult to deal with. The person you care for may do things like: 

  • Misuse drugs or alcohol,
  • Be aggressive towards yourself or other people, self-harm, or 
  • Not take medication

Trying to manage difficult behaviour can cause stress on your relationship with the person you are supporting. Depending on the difficult behaviour you could try: 

  1. Having an agreement about using alcohol – when they can use it, what type of alcohol and how much. 
  2. Setting up rules about using drugs in the house.
  3. Having clear rules about what happens if there is any aggressive or harmful behaviour, such as paying for any damage done or calling the police.
  4. Learning to spot signs that someone might self- harm and trying to find ways to stop it.
  5. Taking some time away from each other – go for a walk or go to separate rooms for some space. 

If 2020/21 has taught us anything, it’s to appreciate the people we have in our lives. Simple tips like above encourage us to show our loved ones that we are here, and we care. Thank you for reading, and I hope you have found it useful!

Have any other tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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