Mental health disorders are a severe problem here in Idaho. An estimated 25 percent of our population is suffering from mental health issues, and nearly 6 percent are serious illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Despite improvements in recent years, our state’s suicide rate is 58 percent higher than the national average as of 2019.
While measures continue to be implemented in Idaho to improve healthcare for patients with mental illness, you play a critical role in helping your friends or family members get the help they need as soon as possible. Here’s how you can make a difference.
Recognize the signs
One key place to begin is by improving your understanding of mental health disorders. They aren’t imaginary, and there are early warning signs that could lead to effective treatment of your loved ones if recognized. Severe mood swings or excessive feelings of helplessness, fear, sadness, or worry, are among the things to look out for. They may also be accompanied by changes in eating patterns, withdrawing from social activities, and a lack of energy or concentration. Knowing what to look for will help you respond appropriately.
Have a comfortable conversation
It’s vital to ensure that your friend or family member will be receptive to the message. To create a comfortable environment for your conversation, remove sources of stress, distraction, or interruption. Focus on being calm and relaxed, and understand that the other person also plays a part in this discussion. You need to be a good listener and allow them to open up without prying. Guide them to a point where they are ready to talk and to listen in turn.
Be reassuring and helpful
It can be challenging to strike a balance between offering to help a person suffering from mental health problems and not being condescending or overbearing. You can ask your loved one what sort of help they need; it empowers them and shows them that you are willing to listen, as opposed to insisting on what you know is best. What matters most is that you provide them with the assurance that you’re there to help and play a part in their path to getting better.
Connect them with help
Consult with a health professional to determine the appropriate mental health services you should reach out to for further assistance. The NAMI Helpline in Idaho is also available for advice through weekdays. In case of emergencies, you can contact 911, the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for 24/7 support and counseling.
Mental health disorders can also be linked to simultaneous substance abuse. In such cases, a dual diagnosis approach would be best, and you can seek out accredited drug rehab centers in Nampa and beyond for treatment.
Take care of yourself
When you’re responsible for supporting a friend or family member through mental health illness, it’s a heavy burden that can have adverse long term effects. Remember that you are only able to provide adequate assistance if you take care of yourself as well. Look for professional counseling and therapy, or become involved with a support group for those who are taking care of mental health patients.
Helping your loved ones overcome mental health issues is a process that’s different for every individual. Be prepared with better knowledge of the problems faced, and you can play a significant part in their eventual recovery.