Psychologist Bethany Howsley shares sound advice on how to help a loved one through this difficult time without worsening the situation.
1 in every 5 Australians — about 4 million people — suffer from a mental illness in any given year, and there’s no arguing that this year has been particularly challenging for many people.
COVID-19 brought an array of concerns that many people have never experienced in their lifetime, so it’s no surprises that some people are suffering from COVID depression and anxiety. Bethany Howsley, a clinical psychologist from Lysn, shares the six best ways to support a partner suffering with COVID depression and anxiety.
6 best ways to support a partner suffering with COVID depression and anxiety
1. Have open conversations
The importance of having open conservation when it comes to mental health is paramount. Even though you may not have the tools or know how to help your partner overcome their anxiety/depression, recognise that offering a listening ear can help someone to feel less alone, and more connected and supported. Do your best to not problem solve or give advice, but rather focus on understanding and validating their feelings and experience.
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2. Practice your own self care
Encouraging your partner to engage in self-care activities is one thing, however practicing your own self care is just as important. It can be painful to watch a loved one suffer, so now more than ever, your own self care is vital. It will help you to be more present and supportive towards your partner when you’re looking after yourself, too.
3. Be mindful about what you consume
Be mindful of what you’re consuming at home together – not just what you’re eating, but also consider the impact of too much social media and news watching. If necessary, take a collective break from the media and focus on activities that help to connect you for example, playing a board game or cooking a meal.
4. Get back to nature
Try to prioritise some time in nature with your partner to reap the benefits it can have on mental health. Exercise is helpful in boosting mood and energy levels, and being outdoors can also play a positive role on someone’s frame of mind. Try encouraging your partner to spend some time together outside. Examples include exploring a new nature trail or going for a walk along the beach.
5. Reach out to support networks
Encourage your partner to reach out to their support network, whether it be friends, family or a social club. These kind of networks can be particularly beneficial when someone might be struggling with their mental health, allowing them to open up the lines of communication and relate to those that know them in a different way than you.
6. Encourage your partner to seek professional support
Sometimes you cannot help your partner on your own, so it’s best to encourage them to seek professional support. It’s important to remember your role as a partner and not as a therapist or psychologist. If they agree, you can offer your support by, for example, attending your local GP with them and requesting a mental health care plan. There are many available options for a person to seek mental health support, such as services like Lysn that provide access to psychologists over the phone or video chat, which can be accessed from the comfort of your own home.
Bethany Howsley is a clinical psychologist from Lysn. Lysn is a digital mental health company with world class wellbeing technology which helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist whilst being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.