Things everyone should know while providing mental health care

mental health awareness
Mental health care

7 Things Everyone Should be Aware of When Providing Care for People with Mental Health Issues.

What are mental health issues?

Mental health issues, commonly called mental health disorders, include a wide range of conditions that affect an individual’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, psychotic breakdowns, eating disorders, sleep disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and personality disorders are common mental health issues faced by people of varied age groups.

The causes of mental health issues are complex and can be influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental, lifestyle, and developmental factors. Adverse experiences endured in childhood or adulthood can cause trauma, which can lead to mental health conditions. These conditions can impact how a person thinks, feels, and behaves and can significantly affect their ability to function in their daily life.

The truth is anyone can suffer from mental health issues. Nearly a billion people worldwide suffer from a mental health disorder. The COVID-19 pandemic made situations worse for many people. The first year of the pandemic saw rates of common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety rise by more than 25 percent.

Given the rapid rate at which mental health issues are engulfing people, it’s about time that people become more conscious. Like anybody with a physical illness, people with mental health issues might require at-home nursing care. While professionals do the needful, you should also be equipped to handle them.

How to care for people with mental health issues?

Providing care for people with mental health issues can be complex and challenging but incredibly rewarding. In this post, let’s take you through some essential points you should note while caring for people with mental health issues.

Education is key

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but mental health conditions are lesser understood by people, despite their commonality. Often, these conditions' symptoms are overlooked until they become severe to the extent that medical intervention becomes necessary. You may also feel clueless about how to help a teenager with mental health issues because their condition is often undetected.

So, you should first educate yourself about the mental health condition your loved one has been diagnosed with. 

  • Learn as much as possible about the issue, its symptoms, and its treatments. 
  • Talk openly to their mental health professional and ask necessary questions. There’s nothing to be overwhelmed with. Educating yourself will only help you provide better care and support.

Mental health conditions are treatable.

History has it that people suffering from mental health conditions are stigmatized. The culture of shame surrounding mental health issues often makes it difficult for people to speak up, and when they do, it’s not always a healthy expression. That’s when intervention by family members is needed as early as possible. 

You should know that mental health conditions are treatable with a combination of: 

  • therapy, 
  • medication, 
  • and lifestyle changes.

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, involves meeting with a mental health professional to discuss and work through mental health issues. Different types of therapy may be recommended depending on the specific condition and the person's needs. You can also find nursing care for psychiatric patients that can ease your burden to a great extent.

Family and nursing home care
Caring for a person with mental health

Mental health conditions can be debilitating.

Mental health conditions can significantly impact a person's quality of life, making it difficult to perform daily activities and maintain relationships. Some chronic sufferers take extreme measures like self-harm and resort to anti-social activities like substance abuse and violence. At worse, they decide to end their lives as a way to escape their unspeakable agony.

As someone caring for a person with a mental health condition, it is essential that you practice empathy. The condition's debilitating effects can seriously hamper the person’s daily routine, rendering them incapable of leading a wholesome life. Make sure you act patiently and avoid stressing them further by dictating the terms of their recovery.

Mental health conditions can co-occur

It's common for people with mental health conditions to experience multiple conditions simultaneously. This is called co-occurring disorders or comorbidity. For example, someone with depression may also have anxiety, or someone with bipolar disorder may also have a substance abuse problem.

If a loved one is experiencing multiple mental health conditions, it's essential to seek professional help and look for family nursing and homecare services if necessary.

The presence of co-occurring disorders requires a thorough diagnosis and treatment. It's important for mental health professionals to evaluate and treat all the conditions present in a person's life. Failure to identify and address co-occurring disorders can lead to poor outcomes, such as increased symptoms, decreased functioning, and poorer quality of life.

Alternative therapies are worthy of consideration

Severe mental health conditions require medication and regular psychotherapy. Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, yoga, or meditation, may also be helpful for managing certain mental health conditions, although the evidence for their effectiveness varies. These treatments are used in addition to, or instead of, traditional medical treatments for mental health conditions.

It's important to note that while these therapies may be helpful for some people, they should not be used as a substitute for evidence-based treatments. You can consider these treatments to complement medication and therapy. It's also essential to consult a qualified healthcare professional before trying any alternative therapy to ensure its safety and effectiveness.

Creating a safe environment is crucial

It's important to create a safe and supportive environment for the person, free from judgment and stigma. Encourage them to express themselves openly and honestly. It's vital to reduce stressors as much as possible. This may include setting boundaries, prioritizing self-care, and avoiding situations or people that cause stress. 

Open and honest communication is encouraged and valued. 

This may include: 

  • active listening, 
  • validating feelings, 
  • and speaking respectfully.

Creating a safe environment is a continuous process that requires effort and commitment. By prioritizing their mental health and taking steps to create a safe environment, you will be better able to promote the well-being of people suffering from mental health problems.

You also have to care for yourself

Lastly, you will also have to ensure that you are doing your bit for yourself as you do for the patient. Having support from family and friends can be crucial for managing mental health conditions and improving overall well-being. But it’s also important that you, as a caregiver, take care of your own needs.

Providing care for someone with mental health issues can be emotionally taxing. It's essential to take care of your own mental health needs and seek support when needed. Remember that providing care for someone with mental health issues is a journey. You will encounter many ups and downs along the way. Exercising patience, understanding their needs, and extending support will help them manage their condition and improve their quality of life.

Author: Jia Gadot is a clinical psychologist who blogs on mental health wellness. She currently practices as a professional and contributes to several publications to raise awareness of mental health issues.

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