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Stigma Fighters: David Susman

10 Priceless Gifts You Can Give to Someone with Mental Illness

If someone you care about is facing challenges related to mental health issues or addiction, you can give them many wonderful gifts throughout the year that won’t cost you a dime. Consider these.

1) Give the gift of assistance

“Helping others isn’t a chore; it is one of the greatest gifts there is.” – Liya Kebede

Lending a helping hand is such a wonderful gift. Offer to give someone a ride, run an errand for them, or pick up their groceries. Walk their dog, babysit their kids, take out the trash, or prepare a meal. You get the idea.

2) Give the gift of knowledge

“Sharing will enrich everyone with more knowledge.” – Ana Monnar

Share helpful resources, such as books, websites or other tips on improving mental health and overall wellness. But also educate yourself about what your loved one is going through. If you’re better informed, you will have greater understanding, patience and empathy for them.

3) Give the gift of time

“Help one another; there’s no time like the present and no present like the time.” – James Durst

Sometimes just being able to have a break from everything is what’s needed most. So give your special someone a book of coupons redeemable for future blocks of time when you will step in and do whatever they need so they are able to unplug, relax, and renew.

4) Give the gift of encouragement

“The tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body; use yours to lift someone up today.” – Terri Ann Armstrong

Often your friend or loved one just needs to hear that things can get better. When they are discouraged, remind them of the progress they have made and how they are moving forward toward their goals. Tell them what a great job they’re doing and how you’re so proud of them.

5) Give the gift of laughter

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” – Victor Hugo

Deliver something funny to the people you care about. Watch a comedy show or movie with them, tell a corny joke, or remind them of that hilarious time when you both laughed so hard that you cried. Laughter really is often the best medicine.

6) Give the gift of nature

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle

Get your friend or loved one outdoors for a stroll, a hike, or just to sit and revel in the beauty of nature. Use all of your senses to appreciate what surrounds you. You can also derive health benefits such as physical activity and the vitamin D you soak in from the sunshine.

7) Give the gift of tolerance

“Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.” – Robert Green Ingersoll

Unfortunately, the stigma and discrimination about mental illness is still widespread. Be a beacon of tolerance by not using offensive terms or labels about mental illnesses. Also be a positive role model by quietly but persistently educating others about the right way to treat those who are dealing with mental health issues.

8) Give the gift of advocacy

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou

Show your support for one or more of the many good causes that advocate for mental health by volunteering, attending a meeting or promoting legislation to improve mental health services. Also, help your friend or loved one connect with the great supports and services they offer.

9) Give the gift of self-care

“Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others.” – Bryant McGill

You can’t take care of others very well if you don’t first take care of yourself. Take some time out for yourself for good nutrition, physical activity, and enjoyable activities. Not only will you feel better, you will end up being a better helper to others.

10) Give the gift of love

“The greatest gifts are not the material things you receive but the love you give, the friendship you share and the hope you inspire.” – Nishan Panwar

Sometimes the greatest gift is to just let someone know they are loved. Tell them you love them through a card, email, text, or best of all, in person. Hugs go a long way too. Leave no doubt in their minds that you will always have their back and you will be there for them with your unwavering love and support.

(This article originally appeared on the author’s blog at www.davidsusman.com)

David-Susman-photoDavid Susman, PhD is a clinical psychologist and mental health advocate in Lexington, KY. He blogs about mental health, wellness, and recovery at davidsusman.com. He was recently named by PsychCentral as one of the “21 Mental Health Doctors and Therapists You Should Be Following on Twitter” and he received the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI – Lexington, KY chapter). You can follow him on Twitter, like his Facebook page, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

David can be found on his blog, Facebook, and Twitter

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