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How to Help Loved Ones Suffering from Mental Disorders

When a loved one is suffering from a mental disorder, it affects the psychology of the entire family.

As the family member or friend watching this suffering, many feelings can arise to affect ones psychology, such as helplessness, confusion, fear, frustration, and sadness.  It is important to not only have an educated understanding of the specific mental disorder but also recognize how you can be of help.

When family members and friends find acceptance for the mental disorder from which their loved one suffers, it is the first step to improvement.  This improvement is seen for the suffering individual’s psychology, the relationship between you, and your overall perception of this person.  Denial is a very common response to mental illness within a family or social circle and can have a significant negative impact on the mental health or psychology of the patient.  It can prevent the individual from recognizing a problem, therefore delaying or eliminating treatment as an option to improve this person’s psychology.  It also decreases the system of support they have to help them through their battle with mental illness.

Another common reaction to a loved one suffering from a mental disorder, is to turn away from the individual as a result of the array of emotions associated with learning of the diagnosis that affects their psychology.  Unfortunately, similarly to denial, isolating the suffering individual decreases their system of support.  Detachment from family and friends can also exacerbate the illness and psychology of the individual, making their struggle even more difficult.

Given the above information, acceptance, support and love are key components to providing the help needed to improve some of the symptoms of mental illness and the psychology of the individual.   Communication with the suffering individual can also be a source of support to their psychology challenges.  Ask questions about their experience if this level of comfort is present.

Ask what you can do to help.

Show compassion and understanding as they describe how this disorder affects their daily life and psychology.  The more you communicate, the more that individual knows that he or she can confide in and trust you as a true supporter.

It is also important to recognize the need for appropriate and healthy boundary setting in relationships with individuals suffering from mental disorders and ill psychology.   Establish as soon as possible what role you are willing to play in this individuals experience with mental illness and psychology, as well as how much support you are able to give and through what means.  Without appropriate boundaries, lines can be easily crossed, causing detrimental effects on the relationship.

Finally, it is important for you, as a family member or friend, to also have support through your associated experience with mental illness and its effect on your psychology.  In some cases, it may be beneficial to seek psychology counseling in either an individual, family, or group context.  There are a variety of psychology support systems available for friends and family members in the same position and very often, help is just a phone call away.

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