It is estimated that approximately one in every eight individuals worldwide is affected by a mental illness, impacting over 970 million people. This substantial number indicates that countless families and loved ones provide support and care. However, without a thorough understanding of mental health disorders, it can be challenging to navigate the responsibilities of caregiving while also preserving one’s own well-being. This underscores the importance of educating oneself about mental health to support others and maintain personal health effectively.

Supporting a loved one through their journey to mental wholeness can be difficult, and at times feel hopeless. At Immersion Recovery Center, we understand the intricacies involved in providing care for a loved one and have designed a program focused on holistic care for both you and your loved one. Our comprehensive approach to mental health will give your loved one the tools to establish mental well-being and tools for yourself as you take on a supportive role. If someone you love is struggling with a mental illness, reaching out to Immersion Recovery Center is a supportive first step on the journey to mental health. Learn more about our program and the resources we provide by contacting us today.

Understanding Mental Illness

A mental illness (2) can be described as any condition that severely impacts a person’s mood, behavior, feeling, or thinking. Ranging from mild to life-threatening, these conditions reveal themselves in unhealthy thought and behavior patterns. Similar to a physical illness, mental illness can be treated with the proper care of a trained professional. 

Types of Mental Illnesses & Their Symptoms

Though there is a wide variety of mental illnesses, some of the most common include:

  • Anxiety Disorders — Though everyone experiences anxiety to an extent, an anxiety disorder is the constant and unrelenting feeling of anxiety regardless of the situation.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) — ADHD is a developmental disorder defined by inattention, disorganization, and hyperactive impulsivity.
  • Bipolar Disorder — Bipolar Disorder is defined by sudden dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function.
  • Depression — Depression involves recurring and severe periods of clear-cut changes in mood, thought processes, and motivation.
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — PTSD involves a set of mental and physical responses stemming from exposure to past trauma. 
  • Substance Use Disorder — The overuse of a mood-altering substance despite adverse consequences.

Impact of Mental Illness on Individuals & Families

The impact of a mental illness reaches far beyond the person living with the disorder. Families and loved ones are faced with the daily challenges of caring for a struggling friend or relative. These daily challenges can result in feelings of stress, anxiety, or uneasiness in a loved one.

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Building Understanding & Empathy

Empathy is defined (3) as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Developing this skill is an important key in supporting a loved one as they address their mental health. Often, a compassionate and understanding response will provide the care and support they need during this difficult time. This will allow your loved one to feel understood and free from judgment as they share their experience with you.

Educating Yourself About Mental Illness

One way to build empathy and understanding is to educate yourself about mental illness. Many times the stigma and judgment surrounding mental illness is rooted in preconceived ideas. Often these ideas will not have a solid factual basis. Educating yourself about a disorder will help you to better understand your loved one’s illness as well as your role in their wellness journey.

Listening Without Judgment

An easy way to show your support for a loved one is to simply listen. Someone living with a mental illness may feel isolated or alone in their mental health journey. Offering your non-judgmental attention can help mitigate these negative feelings and provide much-needed support.

Recognizing and Addressing Stigma

Part of educating yourself about a loved one’s mental illness will be addressing the associated stigma. Understanding and separating the truth from misconceptions can be the bridge to greater understanding and empathy. At Immersion Recovery Center, our Treatment Advisors are available to connect you with the tools and resources to gain a healthier understanding.

Offering Practical Support

Those experiencing a mental illness will greatly benefit from your support. This care can be expressed in many practical ways. These seemingly insignificant displays of compassion can result in your loved feeling reinforced as they progress toward mental wholeness.

Helping with Daily Tasks & Responsibilities

Mental Illness will often make the most simple daily tasks seem difficult. One way to offer a loved one practical support is to help with these simple daily tasks. Removing some of this burden will allow your loved one to prioritize their mental health without the overload of day-to-day duties.

Encouraging Treatment & Seeking Professional Help

Another practical way to show support is to seek out professional assistance. Researching local mental health providers, providing transportation, or simply encouraging attendance are all great ways to show your support. Contact Immersion Recovery Center today to speak with a Treatment Advisor about your options. 

Providing Emotional Support & Encouragement

Providing emotional support and encouragement is another practical way to show your support. A simple word of encouragement or genuine interest in their well-being will communicate your empathy throughout their journey. The journey to mental well-being can have its share of setbacks. Your emotional support can encourage your loved one to press on.  

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Setting Boundaries & Self-Care

While helping a loved one living with a mental illness, it is important to have clear boundaries in place. As you watch a loved one experience difficulty, it is easy to prioritize their needs over your own. Though this desire to help is genuinely motivated, sacrificing your own well-being to help a loved one will result in harmful effects on all who are involved. Though it may be tempting, it is vital to prioritize your health and well-being to provide a high-quality level of care and support.

Taking Care of Your Own Mental Health Needs

Your mental health is essential. This is especially true as you support a loved one living with a mental illness. Some practical ways you can support your own mental health (4) include:

  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Eating regularly.
  • Eating healthy food choices.
  • Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Prioritize your own needs, including rest.
  • Participate in journaling, prayer, or other meditative practice.

Practicing these activities will help ensure that you can maintain your long-term mental health as you support a loved one through their own journey of mental well-being. 

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Seeking Help

Providing care and support to a loved one during this crucial time is admirable. Though the results will be rewarding, the supportive role comes with its own struggles. Immersion Recovery Center understands your loved one’s need for support and has designed a treatment program for this task. 

Our team of experts is dedicated to providing this care and support to you and your loved one. Our evidence-based practices have a proven track record of meeting each client’s needs. We offer a free, no-obligation insurance check when you call to ease the process. This will help to ensure you can receive treatment without the financial burden. Contact Immersion Recovery Center today to discuss your treatment options and begin your path to recovery. 

  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders
  2. https://www.nami.org/about-mental-illness/mental-health-conditions/
  3. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empathy
  4. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health

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Susan-Shirley

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Serving as the Inpatient Clinical Director at Immersion Recovery Center, Susan will work directly with staff members, clients, and family members to ensure the clinical program remains as effective and individualized as possible. Susan is no stranger to the fields of behavioral health and addiction. She has over 25 years of experience, working in an inpatient setting, an outpatient setting, acute stabilization and nearly all other settings in the realm of addiction recovery.