Supporting Someone with A Mental Illness

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Someone who is experiencing mental health difficulties is usually able to live a successful full life, particularly if he or she is receiving help to manage the illness.

Avoid being judgmental. Be aware of the stigma associated with mental health difficulties, but keep an open mind. This might help create a safe environment for your friend, which can allow him or her to relax and enjoy life.

Talk about what your friend finds helpful. Try asking about what helps your friend get through the tough times. By talking openly, you’re letting your friend know that you love and support them.

Respect your friend’s limits. There might be times when your friend says that he or she isn’t able to hang out because of the illness. It’s important that you respect this and don’t put extra pressure on your friend.

Encourage your friend to stick with medication.
Medication is often an important part of managing the illness, and your friend might need your support to keep taking it.

Ensure that you have contact numbers. Having the contact numbers of people like your friend’s psychiatrist or doctor could be important if you need to help your friend through a crisis, or if your friend is saying or doing things that worry you about his or her safety.

Getting help for your friend. If you’re concerned that your friend isn’t behaving normally, it’s important to encourage him or her to talk to their doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist. If you think that your friend is likely to hurt himself or herself or someone else, find help immediately—even if your friend doesn’t want you to. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or the Boys Town National Hotline (1-800-448-2000). You may even be able to accompany your friend to the nearest emergency room or go with your friend to see a counselor.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 

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