Let us begin with a little story. Rohan was a 25-year-old man. He had a stable job, earned well-enough, and lead a comfortable life. Once he got really sick and was admitted to a hospital. His friends and family would come to visit him often. Bring him healthy food, send flowers and cards that read, “Get Well Soon.” He soon recovered and came back home.
A few months later, Rohan made a ‘shocking’ revelation. He said that he has been suffering from anxiety and having panic attacks since the past one year.
This time what he got to hear from his friends and family was,
“Oh, it’s just a phase!”
“You have everything you want in life, why are you worrying so much?”
“Think positive. Just be happy and keep smiling, you will be fine.”
WHY? When a physical illness is given so much love and care, why is mental illness considered just a ‘phase’, or an outcome of negative thinking?
Sure, talking about mental health is not an elevator conversation, but going to an expert for mental illness should be considered as normal as going to a doctor for a physical disease.
But it all begins at home, amid loved ones. It is absolutely crucial that we build a loving and supporting atmosphere for them.
So, here are 5 tips for talking to people struggling with a mental disorder.
Let them feel that they will not be judged
When they know that the conversation will be free of any judgements or criticism, they will open up to you. You don’t have to agree to everything they say, but by showing that you understood how they feel, you’re letting them know that you respect their feelings.
Let them share as much or as little as they want
Let them lead the conversation, sometimes all they need is a person who will listen. Don’t pressurize them to tell you everything. Talking takes courage, your job is to make them feel comfortable.
Don’t try to second guess their feelings
While you may be happy to help them in any way, understand that you are not a medical expert. Try not to make assumptions about what is wrong with them and jump to your own diagnosis.
Don’t grill them with questions
Remember you are talking to them to make them feel better, not to get an answer to all your questions. Keep your language neutral and let them do the talking.
Talk about their wellbeing
Ask them what makes them feel better. Talk about ways to de-stress and ask them if they find anything helpful.
The way to talk to them, treat them, and make them feel play a huge, huge huge, role in their wellbeing.
Mental illness is not a tag they have to carry, and with your support, they can feel that they are complete, and more than their illness.
Read more: 6 Patronising Phrases To Avoid At Work