Helping someone mentally ill

Suppose you know someone who is exhibiting signs of mental illness, but is not getting help. What do you do?

First, do not shame or blame them. According to the Surgeon General, 25% of people will suffer from severe mental illness within a given year. 48% of Americans will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime. Given those numbers, you or someone you know will suffer from mental illness. In developed countries, mental illness is the leading cause of disability.

Unfortunately, there is great stigma in mental illness. It is a brain disorder. People can not ‘snap out of it”. They are not lazy.

First off, become aware of your loved ones actions. Are they sleeping? Eating right? Are they participating in normal activities? Do they appear apathetic?

Then you can very lovingly talk to them about how you have observed that maybe they are not feeling quite right. Never accuse or blame. Share your concern. Then contact the local mental health agency for services.

Sometimes people go to their regular Dr for the help. Most general practitioners don’t really know much about mental illness. They may give you an antidepressant and that is it.

Antidepressants are not the answer for every mental illness. In fact, they can be detrimental for some diagnoses. So go to a Dr trained in mental health.

Counseling can be benefitial for many people. Usually medication and therapy work together. I have also printed lifestyle changes that can be made to help treat depression. This can be found in the archives. These lifestyle changes can work together with medication and therapy.

There is an organization called NAMI which is countrywide in the United States that offers information and support. You can find the local group at They have lots of information about mental illness on their site.

The main thing to remember is that mental illness is a brain disorder. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are affected by it. Recovery is possible. It takes work, but it makes life all the more worth living.

Don’t let mental illness go untreated. It often gets worse – sometimes leading to suicide. Get help – now. Don’t wait. Recovery can start today.