May is National Mental Health Awareness month. Now is a good time to remember that those dealing with mental health issues are not alone. Everyone needs help from time to time. If someone you know is struggling, your support can be key to getting them the treatment they need.
“As a society, when we start viewing mental illness the same way we view physical illness, we’ll reduce the stigma that prevents people from seeking the help they need,” said Lori James, RN and director of senior renewal at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospitals in Breese and Highland.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for helping a family member who is dealing with a mental illness, research shows that family support can play a major role in helping a loved one with mental health disorders.
Here are some steps from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that you can take to help:
- Talk to your loved one. Starting the conversation is the first step to getting help. Express your concern and tell them that you’re there to help. Create a judgement-free and loving environment to foster conversation and openness.
- Be open. Discuss your family history of mental illness or drug and alcohol use, if relevant. It may help your loved one feel less alone.
- Show compassion. Be patient as you help your loved one locate resources and treatment services.
- Be sure to care for yourself too. Being a caregiver can be highly stressful and emotionally draining.
- Seek support. If you or a loved one needs help, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for free and confidential information and treatment referral.
James shared, “Remember mental health disorders are treatable. People can, and do, recover. Family support can make all the difference.”
For more information, visit www.SAMHSA.gov/families. Additionally, the Senior Renewal program at both St. Joseph’s Hospitals in Breese in Highland offer free confidential assessments for adult seniors who are 65 and older. For more information about the Senior Renewal program or to schedule an assessment, call 618-526-5699 or 618-651-2940.