#LabLife

Wellness Wednesday: Mental Health for Friends and Family

To say that the topic of mental health has become highly televised is an understatement. To say our discussions about it have changed may be an overstatement. It seems like there are a lot of books, articles, and podcasts that direct the conversation towards those that are struggling, but few that address those who aren’t suffering directly. Most who do not face issues of mental health still feel its pains through those they care about, and the concern of how to properly be there for them during hard times.

There was a point in my life where someone I loved was going through hardship that I couldn’t relate to personally, but wanted to support them through. I put my life on hold trying to figure out how to help them get back to a better state. I didn’t know what to do or how to approach it, and I didn’t want to seek advice on a situation so personal to me and my loved one. I needed a short-list of helpful advice and I thought about how many others were in the situation I was in. In my experience, these were a few tips that guided me to properly help, and could be useful to anyone else who needs it.

Reach out to your loved one daily. Small gestures reinforce the fact that you care and that their day is valuable.

 Often people dealing with hardships and mental health issues do not feel motivated enough to focus on the space around them. Help them create an environment with less clutter, brighter tones, and more organization.

Whether it be art, music, or athletics, motivate your loved one to continue the leisures that make them happy, even if they feel they’re hit a roadblock in them. Offer to participate in these activities with them.

Sometimes a spark of interest in a new hobby or place can be an open door. It also acts as an outside form of motivation to keep moving forward.

Caregiving can be emotionally and physically draining. Allow yourself time to adjust, relax, and find your own solitude. Take a minute and focus on your breathing and give yourself some affirmation. You’re doing your best and that doesn’t go unnoticed.

There’s no guarantee that any of these tips will produce the desired outcome immediately. But the intentions behind the efforts are what hold the most importance, and can impact those your care about in the long-term.

Victoria Hoppe