How to Support a Friend with Psychosis

Too often people respond negatively or dismissively when someone discloses they have a mental health disorder like psychosis.

It’s important to think of a mental health disorder like you would any other illness or injury.  Because it is just as real, just as serious, and the person needs your help just as much.

So what can you do?

Pick a safe setting and arrange a time to talk with them. Choose a private place where both of you, but especially your friend, will feel comfortable.

  • Don’t ambush them with a large group of people.
  • Do set up a one-on-one conversation.

Be prepared. Make sure you have resources and answers available to help them.

  • Don’t simply tell them to “get help”
  • Do have resources, such as  MindMap information and phone numbers, to offer them the help they need.

Listen. Let them talk. It’s often hard for someone to admit they have a mental illness. Don’t interrupt, and give them the time and space to tell you in their own way.

  • Don’t immediately jump in and start offering advice.
  • Do take their concerns seriously.  Show your support. Express your concern and let them know you care.
  • Don’t try to change the subject to try to cheer them up.
  • Do let them know that you’re there for them.  Ask what you can do to help.
  • Don’t start telling them what they need to do.
  • Do offer ways that you might be able to help them.

Ask if your friend is getting treatment. Do let them know about services like MindMap that offer effective treatment. Don’t tell them they need help and then leave them to find it on their own.

Reassure your friend that you care about them. People with mental illness, especially psychosis, often withdraw from family and friends, which only makes things worse for them.

  • Do keep inviting your friend to get together, go out, and spend time together.
  • Don’t take it personally if they refuse, cancel, or skip out on plans with you…these are normal symptoms of psychosis.

Encourage them to pursue positive activities. There are simple, everyday things they can do to support their mental health.

  • Don’t let them self-medicate with alcohol or illegal drugs—this can only make their psychosis worse.
  • Do encourage them to get good sleep and eat healthy foods.

Read more at activeminds.org.

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