This article takes you through simple and actionable tips for caregivers of mental health patients to take care of the patient as well as their own health. Read on to learn.
People who suffer from mental health issues are known to go through various stages of mental problems like depression and anxiety. It becomes challenging to see our loved ones struggling through these stages.
If you are a caregiver of a mental health patient, managing the patient’s physical and emotional health and at the same time, taking care of yourself and your family can become a daunting task.
The simple and actionable tips and tricks mentioned in this article will help you take care of yourself and your mental health patient in the best way possible.
Common Mental Health Problems
Nearly 8% of all Americans undergo a depressive episode during one year. Depression is a very common mental health condition that fills patients with negative thoughts about themselves or the situation they find themselves in.
A person suffers from deep grief due to various reasons. But depression is curable. A person suffers from depression due to losing a loved one, loss of job, or injury.
Bipolar disorder is also known as Manic depression. When a person has bipolar disorder, he is known to go through extreme mood swings and emotional ups and downs.
When you feel depressed, you may feel anxious and hopeless in your life and lose interest in doing anything. On the other hand, when you become excited about something, you become far too irritable or aggressive.
These mood swings can affect your behavior, sleep cycle, and ability to think and concentrate.
Body dysmorphic disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder is when a person constantly thinks about the flaws or defects present in their appearance and whether others might notice those flaws.
In body dysmorphic disorder, a person might feel ashamed, embarrassed and does not want to interact socially with other people.
Borderline personality disorder
A borderline personality disorder impacts the way you think about yourself and other people in your surroundings. It may create problems in your everyday life and difficulty managing behavior as well as emotions.
A person may lose self-confidence, resulting in self-image issues and a pattern of non-stable relationships in their life.
Dissociation is a mental health condition in which a person disconnects from memories, feelings, and thoughts.
Dissociative disorders include dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, and dissociative identity disorder.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an obsession to do a particular thing over and over again or in a certain way. You feel the constant urge to repeat the activity, almost similar to the way smokers feel. It is another quite common mental health problem; it affects nearly 1% of all Americans.
There are various obsessions that a person can suffer from, for instance, eating a thing again and again or thinking the same thing repeatedly.
Paranoia is a mental condition in which a person suffers from delusions. You think that somebody is constantly watching you. Often, the things are in your head, and you might be getting disturbed for no reason at all.
It results in exaggerated self-importance, and a person may repeatedly undergo delusions. Paranoia affects nearly 4.4% of people in the US.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
A person who goes through post-traumatic stress is known to suffer from undue grief or sorrow due to stressful circumstances in their life.
Post-traumatic stress may occur after stressful events like the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or when a person undergoes a life-threatening injury. PTSD affects one in every thirteen people.
Nearly 1.2% of all Americans suffer from schizophrenia. The people who suffer from schizophrenia are known to see reality differently and suffer from hallucinations and delusions. Someone with schizophrenia has to take lifelong treatment of this mental health condition.
Tips For The Caregivers Of Mental Health Patients
Try to destress the patient
One of the best ways to get rid of stress is by doing something we like. As per the patient’s interest, you can perform several activities like dancing, drawing, singing, walking, playing cards, or playing with a pet.
This will help the patient enjoy life and reduce stress and symptoms of other mental health disorders.
Try to give emotional support
Try to give emotional support to your patient. It is normal for mental health patients to feel angry, frustrated, or sad. It might become difficult for you to cope with all bad mood swings initially; however, you will get used to it. You can support them emotionally and understand what they are feeling.
Try to act like a supportive friend or family member. You can join a support group for caregivers who suffer from mental illnesses. This will help you understand various ways of taking care of a mental health patient. Supporting them will strengthen their bond with you and promote their wellbeing.
Don’t expect miracles
As a caregiver, though you are working hard and doing your job well, recovery isn’t an overnight process. You need to have patience because there will be many improvements and setbacks in your life.
When you feel that there is no progress in the condition of a mental health patient, you need to understand that it will take time and won’t occur overnight.
They may not appreciate your care but understanding that they will improve over time is the most important thing. Try to fix your expectations regarding their recovery because it is a slow process, and they will recover with time.
Learn about mental health conditions and treatments available
Educate yourself with the relevant information regarding mental health conditions and symptoms. The more you understand the symptoms and the treatment of mental health conditions, the better you will support the person suffering from mental health conditions.
Monitor the mental state of the patient
Keep track of the patient’s mental state at different times of the day. By doing this, you will understand when the person feels energetic and when the person feels depressed.
Try to record things like what does the patient feel after eating their meals? How do they feel after playing their favorite game? Keep a record of the things they like to do and about what they usually talk to you about.
This will help you understand what the patient is thinking about and whether their condition is improving or not.
Pay attention to what triggers them
Pay attention to what triggers them and when they feel more anxious and depressed. You can keep track of things that make them happy. For instance, it can be playing, dancing, talking, or even watching favorite shows. By understanding what triggers them, you can avoid those things from happening around the patient.
Try to be patient
Mental health patients suffer from various mood swings, so try to be polite and patient. Don’t lose your temper even if they behave differently with you initially. Slowly they will learn to live with you and enjoy your company.
Try to be non-judgmental
Try to listen to whatever they are saying in a non-judgemental way since they are not well and suffering from a mental health condition. They often say something that doesn’t make sense; however, politely handling them is the key.
Help them in leading a healthy lifestyle
Help them in leading a healthy lifestyle too. Try to take them for a walk or perform any exercise with them at home only. Pay attention that they are not consuming junk food regularly. Encourage them to eat clean food and be motivated and understand the importance of eating healthy food in life.
You can perform meditation on some yoga and inform them about the concept of gratitude or journalling. If they can do that, they regularly maintain a gratitude journal.
Encourage them and let them understand that they can overcome this
When a person enters into a bad phase of life, he loses hope that it will all be fine one day. You can talk to the patient and, as a caregiver, encourage them and let them understand that this is just a phase of life and soon they will overcome it. This will boost their self-confidence.
Take them to regular checkups
Take them to a doctor whenever recommended and get them checked at the proper time. Regular checkups will help them improve their condition, and doctors can understand their progress too.
Ask for help whenever you find it necessary
Try to seek help whenever you feel it necessary to be given. It is your responsibility that you help them overcome their mental condition. But don’t hesitate to ask for help if you feel it is difficult anytime.
Assist them in their daily activities
Try to assist them in their daily activities. If they cannot perform them independently, you can help them in activities like bathing, dressing, preparing meals, bandaging, and medication reminders.
Take them to meet their loved ones
Elders who are affected by mental health conditions miss their family and loved ones. You can take them to meet their loved ones and help them spend quality time with their family members. This will help them feel better and more optimistic about their future.
Tips For Caregivers To Stay Sane While Helping Others
- Accept help: Try to seek the help of other people if you aren’t able to accomplish all the tasks and provide. It is your responsibility to seek help when you are overburdened or when you are stuck in a task.
- Relax: Being a caregiver, you need to relax and take a day off every now and then. Take time out to do the things that calm you, and don’t overburden yourself with any responsibility.
- Join a support group: You may feel it challenging to initially take a person’s entire responsibility. But there are many other people just like you taking care of mental health patients. By joining a support group, you can discuss the challenges and even find an appropriate solution. You would not feel alone, and you might get some great advice that can help your patient.
- Set personal health goals: Try to set personal health goals and work on weight management. Try to eat healthy even and focus on yourself and your health. By exercising regularly and being grateful for what you have, you can stay optimistic and healthy.
- Try to be socially active: By being socially active, you can understand what is going on around you and engage with your loved and dear ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can caregivers help one overcome mental health conditions?
A person who suffers from a mental health condition requires support and care so that they don’t think about a particular thing over and over again. By being in the company of a caregiver, a person may overcome mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
As caregivers encourage and accompany them in productive tasks, their care helps to gradually improve their mental health condition.
In how many days can a person overcome mental health conditions by being with a caregiver?
There is no specific time in which a person can overcome a mental health condition. What’s important to note is that the caregiver supports the patient and gradually drives them away from the things that are causing the disorder. Over time, any mental health problem can be overcome through consistent effort and staying positive.
Do children need a caregiver to improve their mental health?
Yes, even children need a caregiver to enhance their mental health if they don’t care for or look after someone.
How do psychiatrists understand the mental health conditions in children?
Understanding children’s mental health can be quite difficult because children are unable to express themselves as well as adults. Psychiatrists use games as well as art therapy to overcome this barrier.
With the help of art therapy, the psychiatrist asks the children to draw things. They then interpret what the child is going through based on what he/she is drawing. Psychiatrists can also play games with the child to understand their suffering.
Is a mental health condition curable if diagnosed in the earlier stages?
Yes, most mental health conditions are curable. If diagnosed in the early stages, you need to have a look over the symptoms and consult the doctor quickly.
It also depends upon which medical condition the person is going through. If the person is suffering from depression or extreme depression, it is curable by taking necessary steps and preventing it by following the essential guidelines. However, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia are untreatable.
People who suffer from mental health conditions are depressed and anxious about things around them. It becomes challenging for us to see our loved ones going through this, but at this time, understanding some tips and tricks and implementing them may enhance the way of care that we provide to our loved ones.
We hope this article gives you a bit of understanding of what your patient is going through, and what all you can do to make them more comfortable and lessen their pain and suffering. If there is but one takeaway that we would want you to have is that you need to have oodles of patience in dealing with mental health patients.
If you loved the content, please share it with others like yourself. And if you have your own tips, tricks, and suggestions to share, our comment box is just waiting for you!