It is no secret that mental health issues are rising globally, irrespective of age groups. Mental health refers to the emotional and social well-being of an individual. The way a person thinks, feels, and acts –all come under the umbrella of mental health. It significantly impacts the quality of life of an individual. However, the causes behind mental health problems may differ from one person to another. Some people experience mental health issues because of biological factors. In contrast, others might develop them as a result of any trauma or abuse.
Whatever the reason may be, helping people recover from deteriorating mental health conditions can improve their physical and psychological health. Appetite or sleep changes, apathy, social withdrawal, frequent mood changes, problems with concentration, etc., are common signs of mental health issues. Conversely, mentally healthy people feel a sense of contentment, have high self-esteem and self-confidence, exhibit positive learning behaviors, etc.
Undoubtedly, effective communication is one of the best ways to help mental health patients to recover. It nourishes a sense of empathy, support, and connection. It further helps in developing therapeutic relationships between people. Today, the healthcare industry focuses more on improving the communication skills of health experts. Given the increased emphasis on effective communication in healthcare, students acquiring a terminal degree in nursing are taught specialized courses to develop interpersonal skills for improved treatment outcomes.
If you wish to help someone from your family or friends who’s going through a rough phase of mental health, then this article is for you.
Below, we’ve listed some ways you can help patients restore their mental health.
- OFFER COMFORT
The place you choose to talk with a mentally ill patient is equally important as the communication itself. Try to pick a location with minimum noise distractions. Choosing a comfortable and safe place with minimal distractions can help eradicate any interruptions. Try not to pry information that they are not ready to confide in you yet. Also, make sure to communicate calmly and let them open up at their own pace. Start with a gentle conversation to make them comfortable with you, and be vigilant with your words. Since patients with mental illness are highly sensitive, any wrong or insensitive remarks might make them feel uncomfortable to open up about their problems.
- LISTEN ACTIVELY
One of the most critical aspects of communication for better mental health recovery involves active listening. If you really wish to help your dear ones, listen to the person what they are trying to say so you can understand them better. Try to show interest in the person you are talking to with the help of verbal or non-verbal cues to make them feel valued. At times you might not agree with something they tell you, and that’s completely fine. However, active listening will show them that you respect their feelings. Also, don’t interrupt them while they are talking. Instead, repeat what they have said to make sure you are getting it right. In this way, you can process the whole situation more accurately.
It is pertinent to mention thatthe person you are trying to help out might share some of the darkest and most profound secrets of their life with you. Your moral duty is to keep the conversation confidential, as violating their privacy can negatively impact their mental health. They would lose trust in you and might even shrug off the idea of seeking help from someone.
- BE EMPATHETIC
No doubt, empathy goes a long way when it comes to mental health care. It will help you develop a deeper connection with the other person and strengthen your relationship with them. Empathy refers to understanding the other person’s feelings, thoughts, and actions. The best way to empathize with mentally ill patients is to feel their experiences. Understanding the other person’s dilemma and empathizing with them can help relieve their suffering.
Both verbal and nonverbal communication plays a crucial role in responding to patients with empathy. Also, try acknowledging and validating patients’ discomfort. Ask questions to reflect your interest, and let them know that you understand their emotions and feelings. It is best to have neutral opinions if you want to help them heal. Don’t judge for anything they communicate, and keep your opinions to yourself. Your judgmental behavior can invoke different emotions in them, and all your efforts might go down the drain.
- DISCUSS TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT
While it’s good to care for your loved ones by yourself, getting treated by a healthcare professional is a much better option in the most extreme cases. It is because these professionals have knowledge and expertise and can offer the proper treatment. They would evaluate and diagnose the mental health condition and then prescribe treatment (either medication or therapy). However, when communicating with the patient, it is best to provide them some level of space to open up about the issue. Try gently talking about the problem, and through honest communication, encourage them to seek professional help. However, make sure you are not controlling or forcing them. Let them make their decision at their pace.
According to studies conducted over the past three decades, clinicians’ ability to listen, respond, explain, and empathize positively affects patients’ functional and biological health outcomes. It further improves their level of satisfaction and experience with care. Effective communication with healthcare professionals empower patients and make them an active participant in their care and self-management.
KEY TAKEAWAY Let’s admit it; there is nothing more rewarding and soothing than helping others. Look around you and see if there is any family member or your loved one who needs your help. If yes, then it’s your social and moral responsibility to show your love and support through effective communication. It will help them in healing, leading towards a happy and healthy life.