Various Mental Health Treatments To Help Those With A Mental Illness

How Do You Help Someone With Mental Health Issues?

One of my friends sadly suffers from schizophrenia. It developed during his late teens, and unfortunately he was in a household with parents who struggled with their alcoholism and so weren’t as supportive as they could have been. We all wonder whether it would have made a difference to how bad he got if there had been more of a support system for him in the early stages, whether from family, friends, or mental health professionals spotting the signs early on.

At one point before he had been diagnosed, while he was still working as a security guard (not a great job for someone on the verge of a diagnosis of schizophrenia – too much time alone isn’t great for people who are starting to doubt their own mind in terms of working out what’s reality and what isn’t), he had plenty of access to finance for a car, and bank loans. After his diagnosis, and subsequent loss of driving licence, he found himself in financial difficulty as he lost his job also – and so took out a significant loan (£10,000 or so). He started needing to leave the house because of the stress of being with other people and not being sure of reality, and went on long walks, or trips to London and stayed out all night. One of these nights he buried the £10,000, in cash. To this day he doesn’t know where he buried it.

Thankfully he met and fell in love with a girl who really takes care of him, chases up mental health teams for support, tells him when he’s reacting to something which is only happening in his mind, and ensures he takes the correct drugs at the correct times, and helps him manage transitions from one drug to another (which at times requires hospitalization due to the side effects of new drugs). Although he still has good days and bad days, he’s being looked after and protected from the symptoms getting any worse.

It does no help for him to now reflect back on what could have been, but it may be a significant and important lesson for others who are facing the realization that they or someone they know may be suffering from undiagnosed mental health issues.

So what can you do if you, or someone you care about, is struggling with their mental health?

Look Out for Early Signs

If they become withdrawn, or show increased drug and alcohol use, disinterest in activities, disinterest in looking after themselves, changes in appetite, or moodiness, be aware that these could be early signs. Even if they don’t want help, and you may worry they’ll hate you for it, it’s better to try and get professional help as early as possible, as early diagnosis and management could mean it’s a one off experience rather than something which troubles them for life!

ssues can be very time consuming, and having a group of people who can offer support can be a huge help – from attending appointments with him, to sitting at home with him so he isn’t alone when she needs to go out etc.

Her top tips are also:

- Be patient and consistent, someone struggling with something in their own head may not be able to respond to you as quickly as you like, or at all! It may be too much with what they’re already trying to control

- Don’t be scared of their diagnosis – many people won’t become dangerous just because of a diagnosis, they’re more likely to hurt themselves or commit suicide than hurt others – but their general personality isn’t likely to change (i.e. from someone non-aggressive in to a danger to public)

- Believe them that it is real to them – telling people they should be able to see things from your view won’t help. Imagine you’ve been talking to someone for 10 years, and now you’re told they’re not real. You’d be likely to think your world is true and their world unreal!

- Don’t worry about being frustrated, mad, or upset about your partner/friend’s situation, and your own as a caregiver! Neither of you would have chosen this. But try to talk to external people for support, or helplines, rather than to the sufferer, as they may withdraw from confiding in you. Do seek support – you don’t want to end up resenting the sufferer!

- Don’t neglect people’s physical needs – mental health medications can often have negative side effects on physical health, as can symptoms of mental health, such as not remembering to eat, or affecting digestion/nervous system/memory loss. Try to encourage physical check-ups as well as mental health check-ups, as you don’t want to come to a point where physical health is also negatively affecting the person’s life.