Author: Kimberly Hayes (Chief Blogger of PublicHealthAlert.info)
Photo by SHVETS production via Pexels
One of the most painful experiences you can go through is witnessing someone you care about struggle with mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or addiction, and that tragedy is becoming ever more likely. National Institutes of Health studies reflect that more than a quarter of American adults suffer with a diagnosable mental illness; 21 million Americans suffer from some alcohol or drug addiction alone.
The likelihood that someone you know needs professional help for their struggles may be higher than you think. Read on for tips and resources from the Hope Family Health Center to help you advocate for someone in need.
Signs & Symptoms
People who are experiencing a mental health crisis may be unwilling to face their problem or afraid to tell their friends or family that they need help. It may be hard to detect a problem, but here are some telltale signs that someone you know may have a mental health problem:
Panic attacks or worry that gets in the way of living a normal life
Sadness, poor motivation or an ongoing lack of energy
Spending less time on activities that they once loved (reading, gardening, exercising, going to football games, or whatever else you used to associate them with)
The surest sign is that simply you don’t recognize your loved one anymore. Someone who was calm but now oscillates wildly between elation and sadness may be struggling with a mood disorder or—just as concerning―a drug addiction.
Facing the Problem
Perhaps the most difficult step in this process is approaching the person you’re worried about. What do you say? Counselors often advise to not say very much. Instead, as Doctor On Demand suggests, listen. Often, someone who has issues causes us to be upset with them—and, oddly, with ourselves—because we’re frustrated at our powerlessness to help. But it’s imperative not to yell at that person or interact in a way that might be interpreted as nagging or judgmental.
Try to empathize with the other person. You want to avoid being an enabler, though, so stay firm in your resolve to help. But you also need to stay calm throughout the intervention. The moment you get upset, the person you’re talking to will construe your anger as bias and retreat further into denial and defensiveness. Tell the other person that you’re concerned, and say why you’re concerned. And show unconditional love and support the whole time, to foster a sense of trust between you two.
Therapies and Treatment Options Abound
Because of the prevalence of drugs in the United States, addiction treatment programs have proliferated recently. The popular 12-step model is premised on the idea that there are 12 personal changes that an addict needs to undergo on the path to recovery. Essentially, you proceed from admitting that you are powerless to control your substance abuse, to achieving a “spiritual awakening” of the damage that drugs have wreaked in your life. There are also strictly religious rehab centers that are tailored to people who feel more comfortable recovering in a program based on their principles and culture.
Beyond addiction treatment, there are, of course, therapies available for various mental health concerns through counseling centers like Hope Family Health Center and private facilities. Another option worth considering is holistic therapies. Here you’ll find “integrative” therapy that taps into the healing powers of massages, acupuncture, and Reiki (premised on the idea that a therapist channels energy to a patient). Considering that the price tag of an acupuncture session can be $75 to $300 per session, the tab involved in going holistic can quickly add up, so be prepared to shell out some cash (with mixed results, per Psychology Today).
It’s worth noting that, while your treatment option may take you out of the house periodically, you spend the vast majority of your time in and around your home. How you’re living in the privacy of your own home should prompt you to consider adjusting the home environment to improve wellness. Seemingly small changes like adding houseplants and reducing clutter can make a huge impact.
Someone who’s struggling with a mental health concern may not be able to see or hear their own issues, but that person is calling for help. Notice the signs, address the problem, and offer the resources that are available to help. In this way, you can act as a light and guide the person you care for onto the path of well-being.
Hope Family Health Center provides quality integrated medical and counseling services including preventative care and education to medically indigent individuals and families living in the Rio Grande Valley. For more information, contact us at 956-994-3319.