4 Steps to Managing a Chronic Mental Health Condition

Published on 20/03/2024 by admin

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Last modified 20/03/2024

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What is considered a chronic mental health condition? And if you have one, how can you best manage it? If you’re confused about what this entails – you’ll no doubt be curious to find out. 

Mental illness is something that all of us need to be aware of, even if we’ve had no prior experience of these conditions ourselves. In truth, a surprisingly vast proportion of us can be affected by chronic mental illness (1 in 5 Australians in fact). These conditions can be severely debilitating to our cognitive function, and our quality of life. Critically, this statistic means that even if we don’t personally suffer from a mental health condition ourselves, it’s highly likely that someone close to us will, at some point in their lives.

Let me talk you through 4 vital steps to help manage your own – or someone else’s – chronic mental health condition.

Step1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: The Importance of Seeking Professional Support

Seeking help is the first and perhaps most crucial step to healing ourselves. When living with a chronic mental health condition, we need to draw on the resources that are available to us. This includes reaching out to a licensed therapist for support. But how do you find a counsellor who is right for you? My tip top tip: first ensure that your selected therapist has a legitimate accreditation in psychology, such as a Masters of Counselling online

Next, you need to make sure that your therapist is on your wavelength. Do you ‘vibe’ with them? Yes, ‘vibing with someone’ is a real thing – and it relates specifically to how your energy reacts when you are around a certain person. Does your therapist provide a calming presence for you, or perhaps, do they make you feel invigorated, uplifted and inspired? This is important. How you feel energetically around your counsellor could make or break the success of your therapy sessions. 

Step 2: Do the Self-Work: Taking Your Therapist’s Advice on Board

So, you’ve been to see a therapist. Now, you have to do the work. 

Likely, your mental health practitioner will have sent you away with ‘homework’ to do, resources to read, and actionable strategies to improve your mental and emotional well-being. Top tip? Don’t think of these tasks as tiresome chores, instead, make sure to actively take on this professional advice.

Some of the tasks your therapist may have set for you to action outside of your therapy sessions could include:

  • Downloading a guided meditation app on your smartphone and committing to daily meditations for stress, anxiety and depression relief.
  • Reading about your mental health condition to better inform yourself about your illness.
  • Scheduling positive self-care activities such as physical exercise, journaling, and socialising.

Step 3. Talk to Your Loved Ones: Getting the Support of Those Around You

Arguably, one of the most challenging parts of accepting that you have a chronic mental health condition is broaching the subject with your friends and family. 

Of course, we can do this with discretion. We may find we need to pick and choose who we feel comfortable trusting with this admittedly very personal information. On the other hand, being vulnerable with our loved ones can also be surprisingly cathartic. Better yet? With mental illness being exceptionally common today  – as many as 4.8 million Australians have experienced a mental or behavioural condition in their lives – it’s highly likely that you will find you are not at all alone.

Step 4. Commit to Long-term Healing: You’re in it for the Long Haul

The sad truth about having a chronic mental health condition is that for many sufferers, it can be a life sentence. The good news? Unlike being locked up in a jail cell, one can still experience a positive quality of life, even within the parameters of navigating a long-term mental illness. 

To do this, we need to dedicate ourselves to healing for the long haul. There’s no use in resorting to band-aid solutions like drinking, substance abuse or partying to escape from the harsh realities of daily life with a mental health condition. Instead, we need to build pillars of self-care with tools such as journaling, expressing gratitude, and leaning into our loved ones. The best part? By utilising these self-soothing strategies to support ourselves emotionally, we can enjoy enriching, intentional, and fulfilling lives.