How to help a person suffering from a mental condition

  • By Team TDO

It isn't really surprising, as social pressures, and the fast pace of today's life have contributed immensely to mental strain. This, in turn, only contributes to the higher incidence of mental ailments in all developed nations.

According to the statistics calculated by the World Health Organization (2001), approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem.

Recovery from a mental condition is tougher than any other disease. Are we in some way responsible for that?

This number is large enough for almost every educated person to be aware about the kind of mental conditions around. Most of us would shrug and say “as long as it doesn't happen to us, or our loved ones, we are ok!!"

Is it really ok that, virtually, three out of every ten people are already suffering from a serious mental condition, or are likely to develop one? Like any serious physical condition, mental conditions too can take a toll on an entire family.

Forget about society being nice to the patient, start right from the home. Most of the times, bipolar depression, and the likes go disguised in the form of aberrational behavior, and the patient, invariably, suffers from conflicts at home. If he is lucky enough, then he might consult a psychiatrist. It is ironic that a patient's family would rather accept a criminal or an alcoholic, than someone with a mental condition. Now comes the uncomfortable question- where did that come from?

Depending on the seriousness of the mental condition, the sufferer might not even be able to take care of himself properly. An adult sufferer might not show any visible signs of depression, but is serious enough to be dysfunctional.

In these cases, the family must know all the repercussions of the illness, and either be completely supportive of the patient's needs, or leave him to the mercy of his fate. If a person is completely dysfunctional, then there is no option other than entrusting him to the care of a mental asylum.

However, that doesn't mean those who are not institutionalized are saved!! For one, the medications prescribed do have side effects, and his family has to ensure that they maintain a harmonious atmosphere for, at least, maintaining the patient's delicate balance.

Most times, parents think that they have done their job by ensuring that the patient has his medication on time. If only it would be that simple! The mentally afflicted cannot work or function like a normal person. He is going to find it difficult to work in a normal workplace environment, or even be social.

Often, those suffering from clinical depression are forced out of their recovery to continue work, even when they don’t feel like it. It affects everything that they do- the way they carry themselves, the way they think etc. At that precise point if they are sneered at, or made fun of, then it can greatly aggravate the problem. So, to some extent, we are responsible for perpetuating someone's mental agony.

Socially too, there isn't much luck, as the person is going to be somewhat inept and awkward when getting back to his circle of friends. Some try and be sympathetic towards him, and make life somewhat easier. However, for most he is just a 'basket case'. This is when the patient can do something drastic to himself, like commit suicide.

Even if we are not remotely interested in mental health, we should ensure that we aid in the recovery. If there is someone with a known mental affliction, then you should lend the family your support. Even talking to the person can ward off loneliness, and pep him up. You can ask gently, without appearing to be nosy, as to what the problem is. If possible, you can help rehabilitate by inviting him to be a part of your social circle. So, being treated normally and respectfully is also an important aspect of recovery.

The sufferer needs is regain his confidence, that he can be functional, and normal again. Even if we can help a bit, that will go a long way in ensuring his smooth transition from the cuckoo's nest to normal life again.