woman hugging loved one with mental health disorder

Loving Someone with a Mental Health Disorder

As of March 2021, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimated that 1 in 5 American adults (18+) will have a mental illness. And 1 in 20 adults will undergo serious mental illness. With figures like these, it stands to reason that you know (or maybe even love) someone who has dealt with a serious mental health disorder. Or is dealing with it now. Nothing can be quite as taxing on your emotional and physical reserves as supporting someone with a mental health disorder and not knowing whether you’re doing the right thing. 

This resource will provide you with tips for knowing when outside support is required and taking care of yourself while caring for them. 

How to Know if Your Partner Needs Mental Health Help

A key element to understanding your partner’s psychological distress is identifying the warning signs. Psychological distress is a term used to describe unpleasant emotions and feelings that negatively impact daily living and your ability to function. If you recognize your partner’s warning signs. You may prevent a crisis from happening and be able to facilitate a calmer environment. 

Although every mental health disorder presents differently, there are some common signs and symptoms of mental illness such as:

If these symptoms are present, it’s a good idea to talk with your partner about what you’ve noticed and even share some resources that they may be able to take advantage of, such as local inpatient treatment for Tennessee residents at The Ranch. If your partner knows that they have your support, they will often be more willing to enter treatment themselves.

4 Tips for Supporting Your Partner During Mental Health Treatment  

Assuming your partner agrees to seek support for the challenges they face at this point in their life, in some ways, the most challenging part of your work is done. In other ways, it’s just begun. The following is a list of ways you can support your partner while they attend an intensive outpatient treatment or residential program. 

  • Actively listen to your partner. No need to speak, only listen. Throughout their time in treatment, your loved one may come to recognize some truths about their life that may be hard to swallow. Having you as a sounding board can be incredibly helpful to their process and the work they’re doing outside of group and individual sessions. 
  • Educate yourself about your partner’s mental illness and be aware of the symptoms you may encounter. 
  • Create boundaries for your own mental health and well-being. Where do you need to draw the line between being there for your partner and taking care of yourself? Know when you need to take a break. Maintaining your partner’s mental health while preserving your own is possible.
  • Get organized. Familiarize yourself with your partner’s relapse prevention or treatment plan, and create one of your own. A WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) is a great way to keep track of all the information regarding your loved one’s care. We’ve expanded on this tip in the next section!

Plan Ahead By Creating a WRAP

A WRAP plan is one of the best tools to have in your toolbox while in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness. During a crisis, the last thing you want to do is look for documents and be overwhelmed while trying to locate them. By planning, you can avoid the overwhelming task of searching for the information you need. You can store this document in multiple locations to always have the information handy. Following are examples of what you may want to include in a WRAP. Keep in mind that you can tailor these to meet the needs of each individual.

  • Important phone numbers—therapists, psychiatrists, other healthcare providers, local crisis lines and the national suicide prevention hotline.
  • Family members and friends who are trusted and will be helpful during a crisis
  • Contact information for local emergency rooms 
  • Your partner’s diagnosis and current medication 
  • Medical histories, such as any history of psychosis, suicide attempts or drug abuse
  • A list of their triggers and what actions have worked in the past

How Can You Help Your Partner If They Refuse Mental Health Treatment?

If your partner refuses mental health treatment, we suggest you initiate communication with them following these guidelines:

  • Try to understand their reasoning for refusing treatment.
  • If there are alternative treatments available, discuss them with your partner.
  • Be patient. Try not to force your partner to do something they are resistant to, as that may backfire and make them more resentful.
  • Make it clear to them that your goal is to support them no matter what.

The first step in acquiring additional support is acknowledging that you need it. The Ranch Tennessee offers group and family therapy and one-on-one support. If you or a loved one are ready to learn more about our mental health services, call us today at (888) 969-8618 or visit our website.

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