How to Help Loved Ones Struggling with Mental Health Issues – Hometown Focus
Are you worried about a loved one and their mental health? With around 30% of people unaware of their mental health disorder, it often falls to family and friends to spot the signs. If you notice something is wrong, you may feel lost, overwhelmed, or not sure how to help. Fairview Range Medical Director of Behavioral Health Glen Rebman, DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), helps navigate the complex world of mental health.
What are the signs of a mental illness?
The biggest sign is an overall change in behavior or routine. For example, your loved one might stop leaving home or showing up to work, and they might become disengaged from family and friends. If the person is not acting as usual, it could be a sign of a mental health issue.
Sleep is one of the areas of life most frequently affected by mental health issues. Many mental health issues cause people to sleep too little or too much. Sleep is an integral part of our well-being.
A red flag that should get your attention is when someone talks about being hopeless and mentions wanting to die. You might hear a loved one say that the family would be better off if they were dead. This is a common distorted thinking that crops up in mental health crises.
Remember that we all face changes in our behaviors and moods. It is when these changes are out of the ordinary and ongoing that someone may need help.
How do you approach talking to someone about their mental health?
It starts with being loving and nonjudgmental. Tell them you’re there for them no matter what and let them know you love them. Be honest and express your concerns based on what you have seen. So listen. Provide them with an open space to share what is happening. Also, don’t disappear if things get tough. Half of Americans will have mental health or addiction issues in their lifetime, so these are common issues.
What resources do you recommend for learning more about mental illness?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has wonderful information for patients and families. You can research different conditions and find tips on how to manage as a loved one.
The American Psychiatric Association is another great place to find support groups and psychiatrists.
I want to get help for my loved one, but I’m nervous about the cost.
This is a challenge in our field. Although 60% of psychiatrists do not accept insurance, there are ways to help manage the costs. Large systems and institutions work with insurance companies. Often outpatient clinics that accept cash have sliding scale options or charitable services. Don’t let money stop you from getting help. There are Health Care Exchange and Medicaid insurance plans for low-income and unemployed people.
Although fear of costs may prevent someone from getting help, timing is important. The sooner a person with signs of mental illness receives help, the sooner we can identify and resolve it. Getting treatment early makes a big difference for any health issue and that applies to mental health as well.
What are the best ways to support someone with mental illness?
You don’t have to be their doctor or their therapist. It’s our job.
The best thing you can do is support yourself. Support is so important for those facing mental health battles. Letting them know that you are there for them and that you care about them is a great first step.
Often, people with mental illness take it out on their loved ones. They will act on family and friends and behave differently from their usual selves. It can be hard to live with.
Although this can make it difficult for family and friends to hold on, it is the most important factor in overcoming mental health issues. Just showing your support and being there is huge. We see a big difference in progress between those who have support systems and those who don’t. It may seem trying, but your concern and care matters.
Mental health can stress the whole family. Mental health experts know this and have experience of it. We can help you understand the ins and outs of helping someone you love cope with mental illness.
What if my loved one needs to be hospitalized?
Our hospital provides a short-term supportive environment for adults in mental health crisis. Fairview Range is a smaller hospital, which means there are fewer patients in an area. Although the size is smaller, our connection to M Health Fairview enhances our ability to provide cutting-edge care. We have a group of multidisciplinary staff. We offer many group activities and therapies and have limited access to individual therapy. Our priority is to ensure that every person leaves our facility with a safety plan in place.
We are also actively working to adopt more technology in mental health and introduce it to our facility in the future.
What should I do if someone I know is having a mental health crisis?
If you think someone’s life is in danger, call 911.
Beginning July 16, 2022, the new three-digit dialing code 988 will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (Lifeline’s current phone number, 1-800-273-8255, will always remain available for those in emotional distress or in a suicidal crisis, even after the launch of 988.)
You can find resources and information at www.thriverange.org. This site was created specifically for people living on the Iron Range and provides local and national resources.
To inquire about outpatient mental health services in Fairview Range, call 218-362-6937.
Remember that mental illness is a complex problem. As a support system for a loved one, you can’t fix everything or solve all of their problems. Just giving your support is an important step in helping someone you care about deal with mental illness.
Submitted by Fairview Range.