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Олена Зеленська

How to communicate with people who have temporary psychological conditions

12.04.2022

The most important thing in communicating with people who have mental disorders or conditions is not to stigmatize them. This is called for by the International Statistical Classification of Health-Related Diseases. As for communication, remember that not all people with mental disorders are unaware of this fact. They may be taking care of their mental health, undergoing psychotherapy or using medication.

If people around you are reacting emotionally to something, behaving somewhat unusually, you should not focus on whether a person has a disorder, even if you know it. “Are you reacting so sensitively because you have post-traumatic stress disorder?” Such phrases should be avoided. It is also not worth glorifying and idealizing a person for his mental disorder, attributing special creativity and talent to them because of this fact.

For example, if your loved one has an episode of depression or mental illness, you can consult a profession that will give you advice on how to interact and behave to make everyone as comfortable as possible.

If you witness a colleague’s emotional breakdown or an acute emotional reaction, do not shame or judge them.

A lack of understanding what is happening to the people around us can cause fear: “What if this happens to me?” But this fear is often masked by condemnation. Remember that none of us is safe from an acute reaction to stress, emotional burnout, or a depressive episode, and it is important to understand what the person near you is experiencing.

If you have a person with these symptoms working for you, you should talk to them (not in public) and gently express your concern and desire to help. For example, to offer a more flexible work schedule or to help with finding a specialist, etc. In fact, the same approach can be used with a friend or relative.

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