Posted by: jude49 | May 16, 2012

Helping Someone Regain Mental Health Wellness

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This second post for Mental Health Month is particularly dedicated to those many individuals who are “high-functioning”…they are the individuals who valiantly cope with work situations where they need to keep their mental health issues “hidden” to keep their jobs. They are usually sensitive, intelligent and vulnerable.  Their vulnerability often results in subtle bullying by colleagues and bosses alike.  Many times, the exhaustion of living a “double life” coupled with the emotional and physical energy needed to “just” get through the day results in stress.  And stress exacerbates mental health conditions.

Most, if not all people, know one of these high-functioning individuals.  They don’t look any different, but they ARE different.  Many aren’t accepted for Disability as they cope well with their disabilities.  They have rarely if ever been hospitalized. Many can’t work full-time because they just don’t have the physical and emotional energy to do so.  A lot of them do not have supportive support systems.  They struggle, often, with finances.  Many are single.

How can you, as a relative or a friend, help?  Here are some suggestions that will lighten their day…

1.  Focus on strengths.

2.  If they have expertise in an area you need, ask for their help and pay them for their service.

3.  If they are struggling financially, commit to sending a certain amount of money to them each month.

4.  If you notice their hair needs a cut or color, offer to help financially.

5.  Take them out for lunch, a drive…

6.  Offer to pay a monthly bill such as Hydro or Medical.

7.  If they are taking medication and are running short of money, offer financial help.

8.  Flowers and plants are a great pick-me up for many people.

9.  Celebrate birthdays and special occasions such as Christmas, Easter.

10. Give gift cards to London Drugs, Shoppers, supermarkets.

11. If you see a sale on tuna, salmon, etc., buy an extra can and share.

12. If you know what kind of fruit they like, buy it for them.

13. Instead of selling your gently used clothing, give it to friends you suspect are struggling financially.

14. Swap services.

15. Listen with empathy.  Encourage them.  Celebrate successes. Save your advice.

16. Help pay for a counsellor’s appointment.

17.  Many people struggling with mental health issues rarely take a vacation.  If you’re going on your third trip to Hawaii or spending 4 weeks in Europe, consider cutting your vacation a day or so short and give a friend or relative that money so they can have a day or week-end in a restful place.

18.  Bring over a healthy meal.

19.  If you’re handy fixing cars, help change oil, spark plugs, etc.

20.  Remember, physical and mental illnesses aren’t all that different.  People experiencing physical or mental pain need same things–love, empathy, compassion, encouragement…

I know that most of these suggestions are giving financial resources.  Many times, financial help is what is needed.  However, if you think of many devastating physical illnesses such as cancer, there are so many fund-raising events to help off-set the expenses families face.  People experiencing mental health issues do not have the kind of financial backing.  Please don’t penalize them for it.  No one asks for depression, anxiety or any other mental illness.

Remember:  There but for the Grace of God go I.  You never know when mental illness will strike your family.  Help those who are struggling.  Be kind, generous and compassionate.  The payback for you will be more than you ever expected!    Remember, if EVERYONE does his/her part, life can be so much better for everyone, the giver and the receiver!




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