By Elsje Vermeulen
Mental Health illnesses not only affect the person diagnosed with either Bipolarism, Depression, Anxiety, or any other mental illness, it also affects inter-personal relationships with family members, close friends and co-workers.
It affects the immediate environment, which is their home, workplace or other social community settings. It is then important that as much information about the illness is known to both the sufferer and everyone involved in his/her life. Having a family member or close friend suffer from Depression or any other mental health illness can be difficult and at times even frustrating. Support is also needed for family members to learn ways of coping, learning about the disorder and understanding what their loved one is going through.
“If a loved one is suffering from depression, find out as much information as possible,” advises clinical psychologist Barbara Harmel.
“The more informed you are, the better you’ll be able to recognise and deal with the symptoms,” she says. Remember, as a loved one, you too need to take care of yourself and get support. For this reason, The South African Depression and Anxiety Group will offer support by hosting a live Facebook Friday online chat for Loved Ones Dealing with Mental Health On Friday, May 9 at 1pm and 7pm, expert psychologists will be able to give you practical advice on how to cope and deal with this new adjustment. To join the chat, log into Facebook or go on to the link on SADAG’s website www.sadag.org or call SADAG 0800 21 22 23 for help.
Ways you can help your partner
* Be supportive & non-judgemental - they must want to get better and help themselves. Your support is invaluable
* Communicate - talk to your partner about the difficulties you’re experiencing and how they’re feeling
* Have empathy - it helps to be able to understand and share your loved one’s feelings and experiences
* Encourage healthy living - help cook healthy meals; offer to exercise with them
* Listen - listen to what they have to say. Most depressed people want someone to listen to them
* Learn about mental illness - go with your loved one to the clinic, doctor or counsellor. Do some research on the illness.
One of the key roles a family can play is making sure the family member gets the help they need, and remember, their behavior is caused by their illness and it is not them.
If you are concerned about your loved one or if you need a support group or someone to talk to, please call SADAG on 0800 21 22 23 and speak to a counsellor today.