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7 ways to support a loved one’s mental health

7 ways to support a loved one’s mental health

You’ve likely been there – or could be in the future – where a friend or family member shares with you what’s troubling them, but you’re not sure what to say.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness. When someone you know is struggling with their mental mindset, it’s best to create space for them to talk openly and honestly about how they’re feeling.

Dr. Gene Carroccia, clinical psychologist and vice president of ambulatory behavioral health services for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care, offers seven ways to better support a loved one with a mental health concern:

1. Become more comfortable talking about mental health

“The topic of mental health is often taboo, so it can be easier to avoid or minimize it,” Dr. Carroccia says. “While it takes courage to start a conversation with a loved one about their mental health, if it’s done in a caring and non-threatening manner, it may open new doors for them. We are in a national mental health crisis together now, and we are challenged to stretch our comfort zones.”

2. Learn more about mental health challenges

Dr. Carroccia recommends researching your loved one’s mental health symptoms and issues. Learning more about the topic can also increase comfort level. You can visit helpful online resources like the National Alliance on Mental Health’s website to become more knowledgeable. The more comfortable you are with the subject matter, the better you can be there for a struggling loved one.

3. Listen to convey empathy and concern

“Sometimes your loved one just wants you to listen while they vent about what is troubling them,” Dr. Carroccia says. “While they may need professional assistance, not everyone needs this during difficult

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