Anyone can experience a mental illness. It can be genetic or biological, or can come from stress of life, work, or school. Sometimes we don’t know what the cause of it is. Regardless of the cause, mental illness is a health problem just like physical health issues. The stigma surrounding mental illnesses can be one of the main reasons why many people don’t seek help or treatment. Knowing how to support someone who is in recovery for their mental illness can be a key role in the success of their treatment.
Whether you live with a mental illness, have experienced a mental illness, or know someone who may struggle with treatment you can help in reducing stigma and supporting someone during their recovery. Being proactive by simply having conversations and checking in with friends and family about their mental health can provide an opportunity to provide information, support, and guidance. Also, taking time to educate yourself about mental illnesses can help improve recognition of early signs of mental health problems, lead to earlier treatment, as well as have a greater understanding of what someone may be going through.
If you know someone who needs support or is currently in recovery being there as a support shows that person you care. There are a few things you can do to support a friend or family member in recovery:
– Be clear with the person that you are there to help and be a support in any way they would like.
– Ask them if they would like you to check in with them, if so, how much is too much. Reassure them you are there for support.
– When checking in make sure you are in a safe space where they can answer you honestly without feeling uncomfortable. Asking an opener question can help lead to a conversation to help provide support such as, “how have you been feeling?”.
– Aside from helping and supporting your friend or loved one directly, another way you can support them is by educating yourself and learning more about their specific issues and ways to promote recovery.
– Encourage and facilitate a plan with your friend or loved one to include multiple supports. This could be other friends or family members, a therapist, support group, or peer support services. This will help them feel connected as well.
Ultimately being an encouraging support to your friend or loved one will help them with their recovery. It may not always be easy, as everyone’s mental illness symptoms are different, but do not give up. Keep providing your friend with reassurance, and know that recovery is not a sprint, but a marathon.
Jill Haupts, Outreach Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Jill Haupts is the Outreach Coordinator at The Kim Foundation. She received her bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services from Iowa State University in 2016. Jill joined the Kim Foundation in January of 2020, coming from Des Moines, Iowa. Her previous experience includes volunteer recruitment and fundraising, as well as experience coordinating services and providing resources to adults who have a mental health diagnosis. Jill’s role in the foundation is coordinating event logistics, presenting and attending community fairs, as well as volunteer coordination and recruitment. She enjoys working in the nonprofit field and has a passion for advocacy and helping others.