Caring for a loved one, who is suffering from mental illness, comes along with unique set of challenges. However, with right guidance, one can approach the situation with the tact it deserves. Dr Shambhavi Jaiman, consultant psychiatrist, Sukoon Health, Gurgaon, takes us through a few tips that might help.
She says, “Ensure that you do not begin conversation by addressing the issue right away. You have to get into it gradually. Start by asking him/her about what they have been up to, and then address the signs that concern you."
"It is important to be patient, and give them the reassurance that you can be trusted and are there for them. Hear them out if they open up about what’s on their mind. Be present and attentive, don’t interrupt show some empathy, and, most important, don’t judge,” adds Dr Jaiman.
However, it’s also possible that your loved one isn’t comfortable talking about their state of mind when you first ask them. At that point, it’s ideal to give them their space, and wait for the right time to try again.
The next scenario could be where the individual is not open to the idea of seeking help and therapy. In this case, it is best to understand why they are averse to it and, again, don’t force them into it. Dr Jaiman suggests, “You could have general conversations around therapy, and what they entail. If you know of people who have sought help and benefited from therapy, you could share their experiences (with their permission), and gauge why your loved one may be hesitant to reach out to a professional.”
She further opines that you can volunteer to help them connect with experts or accompany them to sessions, should they be comfortable with that arrangement. “Regularly enquire how they are doing and how are the sessions coming along. If, at any point, they feel vulnerable, provide the emotional support they need. Your assurance that you will be around for whatever they need will also help immensely,” mentions Dr Jaiman.
Another concern that comes into play is your mental health. Sure, you want to take care of your loved one, but it should not be at the cost of your mental health. Dr Jaiman advises the following whenever you are overwhelmed:
1. Keep in touch with your friends and loved ones.
2. Try and keep your routine and lifestyle as healthy as possible.
3. Share and express your worries or concerns with someone; a friend, family member or a professional, do not hesitate to seek help.