BY DR. KHOOBSURAT NAJMA
Mental illness like any other illness needs timely detection and treatment. In our society, there is a lot of shame and taboo associated with mental illness. Many people suffer in silence and fight their symptoms without seeking help. On World Mental Health day let us take a pledge to treat patients with mental illness with utmost compassion, dignity and respect.
Here are the ways you can help and support a friend or family member who is coping with mental illness
Understand their illness: Educating yourself about your loved one’s illness is the foundation of support. Not knowing how the illness functions can create misconceptions and prevent families from giving their loved ones effective help.
Do not hesitate to seek help.Stigma can prevent families from seeking support. But it’s through support that you can gain more strength and valuable knowledge. Consult a counsellor or doctor if you feel your loved one is finding it hard to cope with the illness.
Engage them in a daily activity: The more you involve them in a daily activity, the less are their chances to think negative and feel depressed. Partner with your loved one for an exercise plan, go for walks together or join a reading club.
Show respect: People with mental illness feel they’ve lost control of their lives, they feel stigmatized and they suffer the most with self-esteem. Treat them with respect no matter how symptomatic they are.
Encourage them to talk to their mental health professional: The more they are willing to talk about their symptoms and feelings, the better they will feel after discussing them with their counsellor
Treat them as equals: Do not single them out as sick ones. Establish some kind of equality of what is expected of everyone else.
Be calm:Your actions can influence your loved one and impact their symptoms. Avoid responding angrily. Instead, respond with patience and understanding.
Convey hope: Always reassure your loved one that with continued treatment, counselling they can lead a healthy and happy life.