One of the worst feelings in the world is watching someone you love struggle to manage their mental health. Sometimes those with a mental illness have no voice to seek help. In those cases, it’s up to those that love them to advocate for their health and help them. Anyone that has ever been a caregiver for someone knows how tough it can be. Luckily, some common steps can help make the process easier for you and your loved one. Where do you start? How do you know what is right for you or your loved one?
Understand What Is Causing the Problem
Has your loved one recently been involved in a traumatic event? Have they been working long hours with little time to themselves? Have they experienced a recent loss of a loved one? Have they turned to substance abuse to regulate their feelings? Several things can cause a mental disorder, and sometimes understanding the root of a problem can go a long way to finding the right kind of care for someone. Your loved one is struggling and doesn’t need judgment or condemnation. They need someone to listen to them and show them compassion and love.
Obtain a Diagnosis
Once you have given your loved one enough support to ask for help, you will find yourself searching for the right care for them to receive. Before a treatment plan can be considered, you must obtain a diagnosis. After all, if you have a stomach ache, you would go to a doctor to find out what is wrong. The same can be said for mental health. Health providers and therapists can work together to determine if a mental disorder is caused by a medical ailment, emotional wound, or both.
For those struggling with substance use disorder (SUD), a doctor will know about the substance being abused and how to circumvent the worst of withdrawal symptoms best when undergoing treatment. A therapist can help the patient identify the emotional reasons for developing various mental health disorders. It may take a few sessions and visits to obtain an official diagnosis, but it’s very important to do so for the next step.
Research Treatment Options
Once a diagnosis is determined, it’s time to work with your loved one to find the right treatment option. A therapist can make suggestions on what treatments may be effective, but it is ultimately up to the client to agree to give them a try. As an advocate, you must research and understand the suggested treatment options. If a therapist suggests cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat your loved one’s anxiety, you must consider what that means.
Do not be afraid to ask questions about anything a therapist or doctor suggests. If you are unsure about anything, they can explain what it means in a way you can understand. A trusted medical provider can provide information on any medications suggested for treating symptoms of a mental health disorder.
Outpatient or Residential?
Deciding how your loved one will be treated for their disorder is equally as important as the treatment themselves. They will need to choose between three general treatment programs, all of which can have multiple options to suit the needs of each client. Choosing an outpatient treatment program means that your loved one can stay at home and participate in everyday activities. They will need to make appointments for therapy and other treatment programs and attend them.
Choosing a residential treatment program means that your loved one will spend time living in a treatment center where they can receive around-the-clock care. Some facilities offer a hybrid of the two types, such as a partial hospitalization program (PHP), allowing clients to receive more intensive care while spending time at home. Sometimes, a person will need to start in a residential treatment center and eventually transfer to outpatient care as their condition improves.
Care for Yourself
As the saying goes, you can’t pour anything out of an empty glass. Caring for a loved one with a mental illness can be difficult and exhausting. Thankfully, treatment facilities have programs to support those who do so. Just as your loved one needs support to find the courage to seek treatment, so do you to prevent burnout.
Support groups exist to help a client recover from a disorder and offer support to their caretakers. Be sure to ask for and take advantage of such programs if they are offered. These are the basics of learning to be the best advocate you can be for someone’s mental health. Sometimes all it takes is understanding someone’s problems and listening when they need a shoulder to lean on.
Watching the people you love struggle with a mental illness can be a scary and heart-breaking experience. You know you want to help them, but sometimes you don’t know how to do so. You may lack the support needed to care for them by yourself and can feel lost and alone.
At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we have a knowledgeable staff ready to answer any questions you may have to help you and your loved one get the best care possible. No question is a stupid question when it comes to your loved ones, and we understand how difficult it is to reach out for help.
Nobody should have to struggle on their own to help and care for a loved one when a support network of professionals is only a phone call away. For more information on treatment options, call (949) 647-4090.