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How to Look After Yourself While Caring for Someone With Mental Illness

The internet is full of advice on how to care for our loved ones who are suffering from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. However, what about the wellbeing of those who are responsible for helping their troubled friends or family?

Caring for someone battling their demons can be taxing, which is why they should protect their mental health as much as possible. Looking after yourself while caring for a loved one is not an easy task, especially when you don’t have enough strength for the two of you. Here’s how you can practice self-care while tending to others’ needs.

Have a Break

Don’t beat yourself up over what happened to the person you are caring for, Beyond Blue clinical adviser Grant Blashki advises. Supporters often feel they are responsible for finding a solution to others’ problems but it isn’t fair on them.

Cristian Palmer/Unsplash — Caring for someone with a mental health condition can also take a toll on you

Remember that most of the time, psychological problems are not caused by a single person or an event, but rather by a mix of issues. It can be exhausting to care for them if you’re feeling down, which is why sometimes, you need to take a step back and check on yourself.

Evaluate

If you have been in a relationship, chances are you already know that it is complicated. However, being with someone who has depression or other mental health problems is more challenging to manage.

Sarandy Westfall/Unsplash — Assess if it’s your other half or their illness talking

Fights, for example, are hard to deal with because you are arguing with someone whose emotions may be thinking for him/her. You also need to understand that they may not be thinking clearly so the best way to go is to evaluate whether the one you are talking to is the person or his/her condition.

Find The Right Moment

Little things matter when you’re caring for people with mental health conditions. If you noticed changes in their moods or behavior, talk to them, but make sure that your timing is right so as not to exacerbate what they are already feeling.

Christina Wocintechchat/Unsplash — Talk to the person at the right moment

You can start with a gentle opening statement by telling them about a subtle change you’ve observed. Remember, they may be confused as well of what they’re feeling so avoid putting labels.

Choose the right place and time when you will talk to your significant one – make sure they are calm and peaceful. Don’t put them on blast by speaking about a sensitive matter such as mental health while other people are around.

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