Mental health activists shared with us what people living with someone with a mental disorder can do.
One in four people have some sort of mental health problems in life according to the WHO. We talk to mental health activists linked to Obertament. Based on their experience, they have shared with us what people living with someone with a mental disorder can do.
1. Identifying the problem
Psychological unrest may be mistaken for personal or relational problems. Ariadna Rogero, a member of Obertament, gives the example of “a friend who cancels a meeting last minute saying he or she has a tummy ache”. “It’s easier to make up an excuse than to talk openly about anxiety”, she says.
2. Asking for help
“Mental disorders are diverse, in type and intensity. They can’t all be put into the same box, Joan Franch, who is a mental health activists at Obertament says. Once it has been identified, you need to open the door to asking for help.
Aida Miguel, a young mental health activist, remembers when “my mum insisted repeatedly that I should get help. She’d always stood by my side and I could count on her, but it reached a point when someone who has no knowledge in psychology couldn’t help me”. The perseverance and patience of her mother pushed her to look for help during a breakdown.
3. Stay by their side
53% of people with a mental disorder say that they’ve felt treated unfairly sometimes by friends, according to a study by Obertament. In most cases they have felt rejected, avoided or, in the opposite extreme, overprotected and controlled.
Franch confesses that his current wife, with whom he’s been for 23 years “has never taken pity on me, on the contrary, she has treated me positively when I felt low”. Staying by their side, adapting to the circumstances can be of great help in difficult situations.
4. Breaking the stigma
Stigma is the reason why many people won’t ask for help in time, delaying the recovery process. But also why, once the problem is identified, their closes relatives and friends can take this onboard and gain awareness.
Aida didn’t explain her problem to her family until two years after starting therapy, and only did so the day before being admitted to hospital. “I felt a huge pressure”, she says, but when she did explain, she was met with understanding. She remembers especially her grandparents’ reaction: “because of the age difference or the education they had received, they didn’t fully comprehend, but they stood by my side”.
5. Life is in constant evolution
The perception of mental disorders has evolved in recent decades. People who have been diagnosed with a mental health issue live very differently and with much greater freedom. Josep Franch likes to summarise it the following way: “Before, when someone was diagnosed with a mental disorder, it was for life. Now this is no longer true”. His psychiatrist told him after two decades with no symptoms: “One evolves, and the disease evolves with you”.