Mental health is a level of psychological well-being and state of mind of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment.
Just as physical fitness helps our bodies to stay strong, mental well-being helps us to maintain a sound mind.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), 1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. This implies that in most communities, there will be people who are dealing with mental health challenges.
The impact of this startling index is that it has become necessary to raise awareness and sensitize the general public on how to care for people with mental health challenges.
Taking on the role of providing care for someone with a mental health challenge is a big commitment. To give the person you are caring for the best chance of recovery it is important that you find out how to support someone with a mental health challenge, get as much information as you can about their illness, be open and honest with them at all times, and most importantly, look after yourself.
Family and friends may want to be regularly updated on the person’s condition, medication and living situation, while the person may want more privacy than that. As a mental health caregiver, it will be your job to manage these conversations and keep the stress levels down as much as possible.
Providing care for someone with a mental health challenge involves thinking through what is involved and how it will affect your life, doing some research into the type of mental illness the caree has, talking to others who have cared for someone in a similar situation and the type of emotional, financial and practical support you will need.
In order to provide good support to the person you are caring for, try to:
• read about the mental health challenge from reputable websites
• encourage them to take an active role in their mental health recovery, get out and see people and enjoy a healthy lifestyle
• set limits and let them know what you can do for them and what you are not able to provide
• join a mental health support group to meet other people in a similar situation
• take any talk of suicide or self-harm seriously and speak to a mental healthcare professional about it as soon as possible.
Each person is unique and this impacts the way they are cared for.
Caring can be challenging, physically and emotionally demanding and unrelenting, but for the right person, it can also be one of the most rewarding or gratifying experiences in life. Making small, gradual changes can have a positive impact on one’s mental health.