A girl with too many thoughts...

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Topical Tuesday: Supporting Others

On my blog, I often focus on mental illness from the perspective of the sufferer. However, I also think it's important to explore the impact it can have on those around us. Therefore, for this week's Topical Tuesday I want to discuss the topic of supporting others.

It can be difficult when somebody close to you suffers from a mental health condition. Obviously, you want to be there for them and support them as much as possible. However, it's important to look after your own wellbeing, too.

This is especially true if you suffer from a mental illness yourself. Being able to speak to others who share similar experiences to you is invaluable. After all, nobody quite understands what it's like to suffer from a mental illness unless they have lived through one themselves. But it can also create many challenges.

How do you find a balance between supporting somebody else, whilst ensuring you are still looking after yourself? At what point must you take a step back and realise that everybody else is not your responsibility? Offering support is one thing, but if it becomes overwhelming, it will not be healthy nor beneficial to anyone involved.

I'm not a medical professional or an expert in mental health by any means, but what I do have is experience. Experience with suffering from a mental illness myself, and also experience with supporting others with a mental health condition. Therefore, I can only discuss the things I've found to be true myself. Of course, I will always encourage people to seek help from professional services wherever possible.

Let them know you are there

Sometimes, just knowing that somebody will always be there is enough. You aren't obliged to offer advice or be the hero in every situation. Simply letting somebody know that no matter what, you are there to support them, can go a long way in their recovery.

Give them space

It may sound like I'm going back on my previous point with this one, but giving each other space is equally important. Yes, it's good to let somebody know you are there to support them. However, that doesn't have to mean checking up on them 24/7. It's vital that both the supporter and supportee (is that even a word?) are given the chance to breathe every now and then.

(Obviously this doesn't apply in a situation where the individual is at risk and are therefore in need of constant observation).

Direct them to appropriate services

Whilst you may not be able to give somebody direct advice yourself, you can point them to alternative services that may be of help. That may mean encouraging them to go to the GP, where they can access community mental health services. Or you could make them aware of other services, such as Samaritans, who they can contact if they need somebody objective to speak to.

I've gathered a few useful resources myself here.

All in all, it can be really difficult to figure out exactly what your responsibility as a friend/relative is. In general though, I think it's important to realise when helping somebody else is causing you to put your own wellbeing at risk - and it's probably better to establish the boundaries before it gets to that point.

What's your experience of supporting somebody with their mental health? What impact did it have on you? How did you deal with it?

Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading.


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