5 Ways To Deal With People Who Do Not Understand Mental Illness

Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness and tried to explain it to your relatives and closest friends? And no matter how you hard you try some of them still don’t understand what you are going through. Instead of trying to understand the illness itself, they try to “solve” your mental health issues by giving their opinions and offering a mountain of advice. Some may even try to convince you that your condition isn’t real or it’s all in your head.

This is a very tough situation to be in. While you don’t want to isolate yourself from the people you care about, you also don’t want to let your relationships impede your recovery. 

A very interesting question I got recently, someone was interested in learning how to convince someone with schizophrenia that their hallucinations and delusions are not real and how can they convince this person that they are not lying to them when they say what they are seeing isn’t real? My advice to this person is to educate yourself about the disorder so you can understand what your loved one is going through then try to support them, help cope and be there for them. One must understand that these hallucinations and delusions are very real to this person so unless you are a mental health professional you should refrain from doing this, it would most likely have an opposite effect than what you were expecting to accomplish.

5 Ways To Deal With People That Don’t Understand Mental Illness

1. Try Focusing on Getting Better – Stop wasting your time and energy arguing with your friends or relatives who are giving you a difficult time. If you want, you can respectfully let them know where you stand, and how you feel about what they saying. My advice is to not engage in an argument with them especially if it’s upsetting you or triggering your symptoms. You don’t need to gain everyone’s approval. This is your life and you’re the one who is struggling. Your energy and focus should be for you to get better.

2. Listen to the Professionals – Don’t think your friends and family don’t mean well, they do, but in reality they do not have the answers to your condition all they have are their opinions. So, do not go to them for advice on how to manage your symptoms or accept their advice if they give it voluntarily. If you have questions about your mental health, seek the help of licensed mental health professional who is trained to help manage your symptoms and condition.

3. Tell them to Learn about your Mental Illness. Tell your friends and relatives that the best way for them to help you is to try to understand your condition. They could speak to a psychologist or go to family therapy, they could read some helpful books or join you at a support group. They won’t know exactly what you are going through, but this will help them learn how to give you support.

4. Distance Yourself from People Who Give you a Hard Time. This may seem cruel, but it may be the best thing you can do for yourself. If some of your friends or relatives are hindering your recovery progress, then you may need to distance yourself. Especially, if you have asked them to learn about your condition, and they have refused. Whenever possible surround yourself with positive and supportive people. 

5. Take Advantage of the Help That is Available Around you – Speak with your therapist, about how to manage any difficult relationships. If you have problems or issues with a particular person, you can always ask your therapist for advice on what to do or how to talk to them. In the long run, this can help you learn valuable skills on what to do when a person doesn’t understand your condition.

Not everyone will understand what you’re going through, and that’s okay. You are the priority, not their approval or opinions, you need to focus on you focus on getting better.

Any questions, queries or concerns with regard to mental illness please feel free to comment below or send me an email.

Published by Amy

Psychology Graduate and Mental Health Coach, I offer support services for adults living with mental health issues. Understanding your struggles is the first step towards healing.

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