Getting help early for mental illness
Do not ignore warning signs of mental illness in a family member, friend or colleague. The sooner the person receives treatment, the better the outcome is likely to be. It will help if you:
- encourage the person to see a doctor for a mental health assessment
- make an appointment with the doctor yourself to discuss your concerns and find out what can be done (if the person refuses to see a doctor).
Simple ways to help cope with mental illness
It is important to encourage a sense of structure in the life of a person severely affected by mental illness. You can develop plans to cope on a day-to-day basis, such as:
- develop predictable routines – for example, regular times to get up and eat. Introduce gradual changes to prevent boredom
- break tasks into small steps – for example, discuss with the person what steps would help them with daily self-care
- try to overcome a lack of motivation – for example, encourage and include the person in activities
- support the person to make decisions – even though it can sometimes be difficult for them to do this and they may keep changing their mind, try to resist the temptation to make the decision for them.
Dealing with disturbed behaviour
It can be difficult to know how to cope when a family member or friend’s behaviour becomes extreme. It is a good idea to try and discuss strategies with the person, and also make contact with healthcare professionals to get advice and support.
Aggressive or violent behaviour may be associated with psychotic symptoms, or alcohol or drug abuse. In these situations, it is best to involve healthcare professionals immediately. For aggressive behaviour associated with extreme stress, try to develop an atmosphere that is open and relaxed.
Steps for positive mental health:
- keeping physically active.
- eating well.
- drinking in moderation.
- valuing yourself and others.
- talking about your feelings.
- keeping in touch with friends and loved ones.
- caring for others.
- getting involved and making a contribution.
five warning signs of mental illness to watch for, especially when you have two or more of these symptoms.
- Long-lasting sadness or irritability
- Extremely high and low moods.
- Excessive fear, worry, or anxiety.
- Social withdrawal.
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits.