Taking Care of People with Mental Disabilities


Taking Care of People with Mental Disabilities

A person’s mental health is just as important as his/her physical health. They are inextricably linked. When a person suffers from anxiety, depressive disorders, or any other psychological disorders, he/she tends to suffer physically as well. This is why they need our support. A person with a mental disability may withdraw from friends and family. This affects how they live their lives, how they relate with other people, and how they make important life decisions.

There are mentally disabled individuals who appear normal from the outside but are suffering terribly within. If you have a family member or a friend who suffers from depression, schizophrenia, drug problem, or eating disorder, you must find out how to help and support them best. Below are some quick tips on how to take care of a mentally-ill individual who just may be your loved one.

  • If you suspect that your love one is suffering from a mental health problem, procure accurate diagnosis from a healthcare professional right away. Diagnosing it yourself is not definite. The patient has to go through reliable testing and of course sound, professional opinion. If you don’t agree with the initial diagnosis, you can always get a second opinion from the next professional.
  • Communication is always a cure. Having honest conversations with a person suffering from a mental illness will allow him/her to share troubles and relieve emotions bottled within. Aside from talking with the person, ask friends and family members affected by the problem to talk as well. Make sure the individual feels accepted and understood.
  • Encourage individuals with mental disabilities to be more active and sociable. Ask them to join in community-oriented activities. Let them mingle with people as much as possible.
  • Acknowledge the individual as a human being capable of feelings of love or happiness just like anyone else. Do not treat the mentally-ill individual like he/she is a problem.
  • Aside from the emotional problems, check to see if their physical health is also fine. Is the person abusing alcohol or drugs? Chain smoking perhaps? Make sure the person sees a professional. More severe mental illnesses can pave way to graver problems such as self-harm. A health professional and a crisis number should always be within easy reach to come up with an effective plan.
  • Don’t forget to care for yourself. Although it is extremely noble, wonderful to put your foot forward and help a loved one with the illness, it’s also important to care for yourself. If caring for a loved one with this disability can get too overwhelming, distressing or maybe even traumatizing, speak to a healthcare professional regarding your own health.


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Article was created by Rosalie Contino

Dr. Rosalie H. Contino is a second generation Italian-American who resides in Brooklyn, New York. She received a BS in elementary education from Fordham University, an MA and PhD in educational theatre from New York University. In addition to teaching elementary and junior high school and serving as a teaching fellow for the program in educational theatre at New York University, Contino has served as a costume designer, costume consultant, and costume lecturer for multiple productions and events. She has published several poems on nature and articles on creative writing and dramatics. Her plays Transitions in Taking Care of Daddy, Twixt ‘n’ Teen, and Lights Out! received honorable mention from the Writers Digest of Playwriting Contests. Lights Out! made quarter finalist from “writers online”.

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by Rosalie H. Contino, PhD