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How to offer real support to someone with a mental illness

 3 years ago       134 Views

“Often the person with the illness doesn’t even believe that they are in need of help,” says Larry Clum, Director of Community Mental Health Programs at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.

“Additionally, mental illness puts a strain on a person’s closest support systems, often resulting in shame, isolation and abandonment.” So what can be done for the estimated 500 homeless people living in Seattle with a serious mental illness?

“It can take weeks, months, or even years of companionship before someone with a serious mental illness is willing to enter into a trusting relationship,” says Clum.

Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission is on the front lines of this problem, offering a lifeline to those with mental illness on the streets.

The organization also trains members of the public on Mental Health First Aid so that genuine companionship can be offered to these silent sufferers on our streets.

So when you encounter a homeless person with mental illness what should you do?

“We worry so much these days about enabling those who are homeless, addicted or mentally ill, that we think we are better off not to engage them,” says Clum.

Offering occasional reassurance can have a huge impact on someone in distress.

If the person appears to be too agitated for conversation, and under such distress that safety could be an issue, call 911.

The next open class is on March 9 and 10, 2017 at the Downtown Seattle Association.

Author: Seattle's Union Gospel Mission


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