How to support a loved one with mental health issues

How to support a loved one with mental health issues

When Prince William, along with his wife and brother, first started the “Heads Together” campaign to fundraise for mental health services and tackle the associated stigma, not a single celebrity wanted to support it publicly until shortly before it was launched, as the Prince revealed.

Mental health is a touchy subject indeed because it is sometimes difficult to hear the phrase without thinking of the negative connotations. Mental health is complicated too, as it encompasses one’s biological, social and psychological being and requires a collaborative effort by various healthcare professionals to manage mental health needs effectively. At Better Healthcare, we are a leading healthcare provider supplying nurses and carers to private individuals and care homes across the UK, and mental health care is one of the vital support services we provide.

What is Mental Health?

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), the definition of mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

This definition, while helpful, can also be somewhat limiting. This is because mental health problems can affect a range of people – from children to adults – and we certainly can’t expect children to fully understand how to cope with ‘the normal stresses of life’ or ‘work productively’.

Broadly speaking though, we can categorise mental health problems into a few areas – alcohol abuse, anxiety disorder, bereavement, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), panic disorder, stress, psychosis, among others.

To cope with any mental health condition, we must first have the ability to look after ourselves; love ourselves; sleep and eat well; exercise; have fun; hold ourselves to realistic goals; see value in ourselves and in our existence.

It is also wise to conceptualise mental health as a spectrum – some days, we’re going to achieve positive things and feel better; other days, we don’t. And it’s those ‘other days’ that we’re concerned with here – and how we can help to support people with mental health problems through these days.

The important roles of carers

The term carer may conjure images of supporting workers completing household tasks like cooking and cleaning. In reality, it is more than that as much of care work actually revolves around mental and emotional support, particularly with clients suffering from a mental illness.

At Better Healthcare, we are committed to offering the highest standards to our clients and training is paramount to our success. Our nurses and carers receive regular training and tremendous support, allowing them to perform to the best of their abilities.

Supporting a loved one with Mental Health problems

Everyone is unique and accordingly, the support needed for a person with mental health problems can vary from person-to-person. Most mental health patients seek help from their GPs, or from organisations such as mind.org.uk, harmless.org.uk, or a local support group first. The treatment they receive can involve medication and/or psychological therapy.

For clients with mental health problems living in a care home and supported by our well-trained and compassionate nurses and carers, they can be assured that we do more than the ‘tick-all-the-boxes’ routine exercise. In addition to general care duties, our nurses and carers take the time and effort to:

  • Listen to your loved one and talk to them
  • Learn about what they are going through
  • Help your loved one work towards their goals
  • Manage their medication
  • Help with personal care
  • Support them at appointments

We may also take specific tasks such as:

  • Work with a specialist to rebuild their resilience specific to their situation
  • Help a loved one with a mental health issue to recover from an acute episode

Additional guidelines

If you’re caring for a loved one with a mental health issue, it’s also important to follow a few guidelines:

  • Don’t force someone to talk to you. If they don’t want to talk, don’t try and force the issue. It can be tempting, but this can only serve to push them further away.
  • You cannot speak for them to a doctor. While a doctor can answer questions about particular symptoms, and the process behind a diagnosis, they won’t be able to share any personal details about your loved one’s current state without their consent. This isn’t the case if you are in a position to speak on their behalf (e.g. an advocate).
  • Don’t tell them that they are wrong. If your loved one is seeing or experiencing things in a different way (e.g. paranoia, psychosis or hearing voices), don’t tell them that they are wrong. Instead you could ask questions about how these experiences are making them feel. Or, instead of telling them that you think they are wrong, you can simply state that you understand they are seeing things that way, but that you see things differently.
  • Act quickly if your loved one wants to harm themselves or has harmed themselves. This needs immediate medical attention and you should call 999 and stay with them until the appropriate help arrives. If you feel you’re in danger, or that others are in danger, dial 999 and put the safety of yourself and others first.

Better Healthcare can help

Looking after a loved one living with mental health problems isn’t easy but you can seek help from us. Our home care service, ranging from short half-hour visits to round-the-clock care, is available to help your loved one with mental health issues maintain a dignified life.

Get in touch on 0800 668 1234 or contact our local office today:

This post is not health advice and should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current healthcare issues.