Supporting Loved Ones Through Mental Health Challenges

by Ariela Paulsen
Supporting Loved Ones Through Mental Health Challenges

In this strange and unprecedented time, we are all experiencing heightened anxiety and feelings of depression.  We feel grief, fear, and uncertainty.  And many of us are separated from the support systems that have kept us going through tough times in the past.

Last month I wrote about the new empathy that society is feeling, as a whole, for the experience of chronic illness. I want to take this opportunity to think about mental illness through this lens.  One in five adults, and one in six youth, experience mental illness each year.  Most people in quarantine are struggling with feelings that these individuals experience on a daily basis.  When this pandemic is over, I hope we can all remember how this feels, and use it to fuel compassion for others.  

So what can we do, now and in the future, to support those we love?  

Reach out

A simple “How are ya?” or “thinking of you” can go such a long way.  If this is feeling daunting, don’t be ashamed.  Complicated emotions can come up when allowing yourself and someone else to experience vulnerability together.  But it can feel amazing once you get more comfortable!  If you need some tips, check out our guide for reaching out to loved ones.

Snail mail

Yes, really!  Mental health experts agree that anticipation of something good can have a positive impact on our psyche!  If you let someone know that you sent them something, they can look forward each day to knowing it’s coming, and then have the added bonus of receiving the item itself.  This can be anything — a hand-written letter, pictures from a good memory, a gift or card… the key is that whatever you send makes them feel loved and seen for who they are (this is why we created Mighty Well Gift Bundles!  There’s nothing quite like having someone acknowledge your strength as a chronic illness warrior!).

Set up a date

If you are able, set up an activity to do with them sometime in the near future.  This adds to the anticipation benefits, and the social interaction and mental distraction can go such a long way.  You could play a game, watch a comedy, cook a meal together, make some crafts, work out… even a 10 minute walk and catch up!  All of these activities are possible to do while social distancing.  You can connect over video calls or outside (keeping 6+ feet of distance and wearing a mask, of course 😉).  And remember, simply being outside has many mental health benefits!

Just because we have to isolate right now does not mean we have to go it alone.  And when this is all over, let’s remember those who are still experiencing mental illness.

Want more community and positive vibes in your life?  Join our Friends in the Fight facebook group!

Mental Health Resources:

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