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  • Writer's pictureSGFIRSTAID

Suffering in SILENCE

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Ever wonder why people living with mental illness suffer in silence? Your mental health has an impact on how you think, feel, and behave in everyday life. It also has an impact on your ability to deal with stress, overcome obstacles, form relationships, and recover from life's setbacks and hardships.

Strong mental health entails more than just the absence of mental health issues. Being mentally or emotionally healthy entails far more than the absence of depression, anxiety, or other psychological problems. Mental health, rather than the absence of mental illness, refers to the presence of positive characteristics.

Family and acquaintances of someone suffering from a mental illness frequently have comparable experiences. Family and friends may assist those suffering from mental illnesses in a variety of ways. It is fairly unusual for family and friends to devote a significant amount of their time and energy to their loved one. However, it is also critical to look for oneself.

No one is to blame when a person is affected by mental illness. Sometimes caring for a family member or friend can be overwhelming, and it can be helpful to seek support from a support group or counsellor

People who are mentally healthy have:

  • A sense of contentment.

  • A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun.

  • The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.

  • A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.

  • The flexibility to learn new skills and adapt to change.

  • A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.

  • The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.

  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem.

Getting help early for mental illness

Don’t ignore warning signs of mental illness in a family member or friend. The sooner the person receives support and treatment, the better the outcome is likely to be. It can help to:

  • Encourage the person to speak with doctor about their concerns.

  • Speak with your own doctor about your concerns and what options might be available if the person is reluctant to see their doctor.

Common reactions to mental illness

Mental illness often has a ‘ripple effect’ on families, creating tension, uncertainty, stress and sometimes significant changes in how people live their lives. Different family members are likely to be affected in different ways.

It's normal to feel a whole range of emotions, such as guilt, fear, anger and sadness. Acknowledging these feelings can be the first step towards working through them.

No one is to blame when a person is affected by mental illness.

Taking care of yourself

Sometimes caring for someone living with mental illness can increase your own risk of mental and physical ill health. It is important to look after yourself and know your limits.

It can be helpful to:

  • Learn as much as you can about mental illness, treatment and what services are available in your area. This also helps in understanding what's going on for your loved one and knowing how you can help.

  • Find out if there are education and training courses for carers that you can attend.

  • Understand that symptoms may come and go, and vary in severity. Different levels of support may be required for yourself and your loved one at different times.

  • Develop a sense of balance between your own needs and the needs of the person you care for.

  • Consider contacting a support group for carers or relatives and friends of people with a mental illness.

It might be helpful to decide what level of support and care you are realistically able to provide to the person. Engage in a supportive conversation with your family member or friend (as well as mental health professionals) about the type of support you can provide. This can help ensure that the type of support you are unable to provide can be arranged in another way. Talk to the person’s doctor or case manager about what types of support are available. Structure can be an important part of developing and maintaining good self-care strategies as well as supporting the recovery for people living with a mental illness. Plans may include:

  • develop predictable routines – for example, regular times to get up and eat. Introduce gradual changes to prevent boredom

  • break tasks into small steps – for example, discuss with the person what steps would help with daily self-care

  • try to overcome a lack of motivation – for example, encourage and include the person in activities

  • encourage the person to make decisions – sometimes this can be difficult for a person who is unwell, or they may keep changing their mind. Try to resist the temptation to make the decision for them.

Supporting someone who may have suicidal thoughts

If you think a friend or relative is at risk of suicide, discuss your concerns with them openly and non-judgmentally. Rather than putting the idea of suicide into someone’s head, a supportive conversation gives them the opportunity to talk about their distress. Encourage, or help, the person to access professional help, such as their mental health professional.

If the person is at serious risk of suicide, stay with them if possible and contact the psychiatric emergency team at your local hospital or clinic. Or, call 1767 and explain that the person is suicidal, has made a plan, and you have concerns for their safety. Keep these numbers readily available in case you need urgent help.

Tips for connecting to others

  • Call a friend or loved one now and arrange to meet up. If you both lead busy lives, offer to run errands or exercise together. Try to make it a regular get-together.

  • If you don’t feel that you have anyone to call, reach out to acquaintances. Lots of other people feel just as uncomfortable about making new friends as you do—so be the one to break the ice. Reconnect with an old friend, invite a coworker out for lunch, or ask a neighbour to join you for coffee.

  • Get out from behind your TV or computer screen. Communication is a largely nonverbal experience that requires you to have direct contact with other people, so don’t neglect your real-world relationships in favor of virtual interaction.

  • Be a joiner. Join networking, social, or special interest groups that meet on a regular basis. These groups offer wonderful opportunities for meeting people with common interests.

  • Don’t be afraid to smile and say hello to strangers you cross paths with. Making a connection is beneficial to both of you—and you never know where it may lead!

If you’ve made consistent efforts to improve your mental and emotional health and still aren’t functioning optimally at home, work, or in your relationships, it may be time to seek professional help. Learning psychosocial skills allows individuals to care for and assist one another, which is what psychological first aid aims to do.

This allows for the development of better ties and peer support in both critical emergency situations and daily situations at home, school, work, and in the community.

To help more individuals cope with the physical and emotional aspects of first aid, SGFIRSTAID included psychological first aid. Learning psychological first aid enables you to establish a non-intrusive and compassionate interaction with another person. This skill, like first aid, has the potential to save lives.

The 100% online Psychological First Aid Course is the globally recommended training for supporting people during emergencies.

Encouraging more people to learn skills such as psychological first aid will make Singapore a more resilient society that can bounce back more quickly after a crisis. To find out more about Psychological First Aid,

Do contact us at

Tel: 62978123

WhatsApp: 86715681

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