Yoram Yasur Izz: Helping a person with a mental disorder
The World Health Organization estimates that depression affects 300 million people worldwide, bipolar affective disorder afflicts 60 million people and psychosis affects 21 million people.
A study conducted at the University of California estimated that half of people will suffer a psychological problem at some point in their lives. These figures indicate that, if the psychological problems do not directly affect you, it is likely that you will meet at least one close person who needs your help to recover.
Strategies to help a person with a mental disorder
– Learn about mental disorders and get away from stereotypes
Yoram Yasur Izz: For decades mental disorders have dragged the slab of incomprehension, being subject to misinterpretation, false information, and all kinds of taboos. Disinformation and prejudice do not help the person who suffers from a mental disorder, rather they make her feel inadequate, isolated, and misunderstood. Therefore, the first step to help you is to get informed.
There are different mental disorders, all do not manifest in the same way or demand the same approach or action. Anxiety is different from depression, personality disorder as schizophrenia. It is essential that you be informed about the nature of the symptoms and the treatment options that exist for the mental problem in question.
– Be understanding and empathetic, without falling into pity
Yoram Yasur Izz: Mental disorders not only affect the sufferer but also the people in their immediate environment. Living with someone who suffers a mental illness is not always easy, so it is necessary to arm yourself with patience and understanding.
Remember that that person is also likely to feel scared because he does not understand what is happening to him, so recriminating, blaming, or isolating him will not solve the problem. Also keep in mind that sometimes that person is not fully aware of the changes he has suffered or the damage he can cause to others. Therefore, if you want to help a person with a mental disorder, the best weapon is empathy. Avoid pity because this feeling will not do you any good.
– Avoid hyper protection
Yoram Yasur Izz: When one of the family members begins to suffer from a mental disorder, it is common for family dynamics to change. The family can turn inadequately on that person, establishing an unhealthy balance that often falls into hyper protection. The problem is that this excessive protection prevents the person from developing their resources of healing and autonomy, reaffirming the idea that he is a “sick person”, when in reality it is only a person who has a disease.
There is no doubt that the family must become a source of support, understanding and balance, but it cannot invalidate the person. Therefore, in most cases the best way to help a person with a mental disorder is simply to ask what they need. Leave your space and independence, as far as possible, and assure a climate of stability in which desperation and despondency is banished, to help you recover.
– Start a constructive dialogue, being aware of your limits
Yoram Yasur Izz: If the person suffering from a mental disorder is not aware of their problem, it is important that you approach them with tact. Avoid recriminations and accusations. Forget the power struggle because it is not about being right but about building a relationship of trust. Do not make value judgments, let them know that you are there to listen and help them, but do not pressure them to tell you things they do not feel comfortable with.
Also, do not try to change that person by supplanting the role of the psychologist or the psychiatrist because you could fall into iatrogenia; that is, doing more harm than good. Phrases like “you have to play your part”, “do not worry, it’s nothing” or “cheer up, it’s not so bad” tend to have the opposite effect because the weight of the illness adds guilt, the feeling that He is strong enough to deal with what happens to him.
A study conducted at the universities of Melbourne, Louvain and Amsterdam proved that the social pressure on people suffering from major depression so that they do not experience these negative feelings, actually reinforce depressive symptoms.
– Ask a psychologist for help
Mental disorders can become a serious health problem, do not underestimate them. If you really want to help a person with a mental disorder, you should encourage him to go to the psychologist, the most appropriate professional to diagnose and treat these problems. In acute cases, such as a severe depression or a psychotic outbreak, taking it to the hospital is the best option.
Remember that the longer it takes to ask for help, the more chronic the disorder becomes. Unfortunately, people who suffer from mental disorders often take time to ask for help: between 6 and 18 years old, those who are addicted and between 3 and 30 years old, who suffer from an anxiety disorder, according to a study led by the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States.