How to Support a Loved One with Mental Illness

Mental Illness

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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic impact on the lives and livelihoods of people globally, especially triggering those suffering from mental disorders and stress. Right here in Malaysia, the daily rising number of cases and deaths and constant stream of negative news have caused people to feel helpless and worn out, with some resorting to extreme measures when they feel like they need a way out.

 

Joan Low, Founder of Thoughtfull, a digital mental health company that aims to make mental healthcare more seamless and affordable here in Asia, is focused on doing something about it. Its ThoughtfullChat, a subscription-based mobile app, helps empower people to engage earlier, rather than later. The service provides a slew of resources, as well as access to bite-sized coaching with certified mental health professionals.

 

She explains, “It’s a mobile app where users can access, self-driven tools for learning about mental health. It’s also a place where they can connect one on one, privately, to a certified either counsellor psychologist or psychiatrist that’s trained for digital talk therapy and coaching.”

 

Mental Illness

Joan Low, Founder of Thoughtfull

 

Most of the time, when people think about mental health, they tend to think about the illness, rather than the well-being portion of it. “To give you an example, when people say mental health, usually the first thing they think about is stress, anxiety, or depression, which are all the spectrums of the states of unwellness. What they forget is that mental health has a definition that encompasses the positive parts of good mental health and well-being,” Joan says.

 

Being tied to high levels of emotional volatility can be incredibly hard, but early awareness of mental illness is key. “Our hope is that people will start engaging with mental health, not just when they are already in a state of being unwell, but really engaging, even when they are not at their best mentally. It should be integrated into our everyday lives,” Joan shares.

 

“If we are brushing our teeth for personal hygiene, exercising three times a week for our physical health, then we should be really doing certain things for our mind as well. Are we engaging with our coach so that we can always explore our thought patterns? Are we aware of what our coping mechanisms are in self-regulation? Are we proactively educating ourselves and learning more about it? I think all of this drives towards understanding that mental health is a wide spectrum,” she adds.

 

Courtesy of Thoughtfull

 

Another aspect of mental illness is seeing a loved one struggling with it and not knowing how to best support them. Here, Joan shares more tips on what can be done.

For more information on Thoughtfull, click here.

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Remind ourselves of our expectations

“This is very important, not just for our own well-being as caregivers, but also to be fully supportive and there for our loved ones. Oftentimes, what caregivers do is that they will prescribe what their idea of recovery looks like onto the person they’re taking care of. Then when the person that we’re taking care of fails to meet this pre-prescribed benchmark that we have had in our minds of what recovery looks like, that’s where disappointment happens and that’s where the frustration happens. Not only do we burn ourselves out in that process, but also negatively influence and impact the person we are caring for.”

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