One in four people suffers from some form of mental illness. That makes mental illness one of the main causes of ill-health and disability in the world.
Mental illness comes in many forms and doesn’t discriminate. Men, women, and children of all walks of life are at risk. One of the best ways to treat and help those suffering is to increase mental health awareness. And this starts with a sense of community.
The more educated people are about mental illness, the better they can identify and support those battling this debilitating disease.
This article will outline the importance of community in the success of mental illness recovery and ways you can help.
Knowledge is Power
There are countless stereotypes surrounding mental health, including causes and symptoms. Many people misinterpret mental illness as simply meaning someone is “crazy”. Addressing the negative stigmatism around mental health is step one in the recovery process.
Another common misconception is that mental illness isn’t a disease when, in fact, that’s exactly what it is. Just like diabetes or heart disease, mental illness needs to be treated like any other medical condition.
Unlike the above-mentioned diseases that directly affect a person’s physical health, mental illness attacks a person’s emotional and cognitive abilities and behavior as well. Those suffering have a difficult time performing daily tasks or living a normal life.
Paranoia, depression, and a lack of social skills make it difficult for patients to work or participate in common activities with friends and family.
When you’re educated about the causes of mental illness, you can start gathering the necessary tools to help lend support and assistance. One of the most powerful tools is acceptance.
Mental Illness Recovery Starts with Acceptance
The negative stigmatism around mental illness prevents many people from getting involved or lending a hand. Many people are misinformed about the specific diagnosis and root cause of the problem.
Some people even go as far as to accuse those with mental illnesses of faking it. Accepting the truth that mental illness is a physical disease that impacts a person’s emotions is the first step toward being an active participant in mental illness recovery.
Remember, someone suffering from a mental illness already feels like an outcast. If they suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or another emotional disease, they need love and support to thrive, not criticism and doubt.
A Sense of Belonging
One of the greatest benefits of a sense of community for anyone is a feeling of belonging. Many people with mental illness feel different. Creating a sense of community is about togetherness.
Support groups for those with mental illness offer the positive reinforcement that many individuals need. It also offers a certain level of inclusion and comradery – a place where everyone is dealing with the same types of issues.
Here, individuals can find common ground with others. They can discuss treatment options and techniques, as well as more personal information. Sharing likes, dislikes, and interests may even lead to newly-forged friendships.
Relationships are the foundation for creating a sense of community.
It’s far too easy for those struggling with mental illness to fall into a dark place of isolation and depression. Creating a supportive community offers a source of positivity and hope.
Lack of motivation and a feeling of worthlessness are also common in mental health patients. When these individuals start forming friendships outside of their immediate comfort zone, they become more inclined to socialize and get involved.
It also gives them something to look forward to. Joining a book club or another organized group that meets regularly provides consistency and routine.
A common complaint among those with mental illness is that they feel worthless. Patients often believe no one cares about them or would miss them if they’re gone.
These emotions are deeply rooted in low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence. By establishing a sense of community around patients, it helps boost their own self-worth. They soon recognize that plenty of people care about them and that they’re worthy of love and affection.
Sometimes, it takes this external validation for patients to see their own positive attributes.
A Sense of Purpose
Without a purpose in life, it’s difficult to get out of bed each day. This is true for everyone, not just those dealing with mental illness. However, if someone does have a mental health issue, a lack of purpose can make matters worse.
Everyone needs to feel needed and wanted on a certain level. Whether that’s felt through your job, volunteer work, or as a parent or partner, we all have a universal desire to be needed.
Patients who join a specific group or organization that allocates jobs to its members help create a sense of purpose. Small jobs and tasks are a perfect stepping stone for teaching job skills.
It could be something as simple as taking attendance before each meeting or collecting weekly donations. Talk-up the job and its importance. This will boost the individual’s confidence and help them realize that things wouldn’t be the same without them.
Mental Illness Recovery is a Group Effort
The person suffering from mental illness isn’t the only one who needs support. Family members are directly impacted by the disease.
It can be difficult to handle a loved one’s mental illness – especially when it changes their personality.
Some family members (most often parents) might blame themselves for the current situation. In time, loved ones may resent the patient for taking up so much of their time and energy. These feelings are soon followed by ones of regret and guilt for having such negative thoughts.
Mental illness recovery isn’t one-size-fits-all. It takes plenty of time, patience, and resources to face head-on. It’s important to celebrate the small accomplishments and learn from the setbacks.