How to support a loved one with mental illness

Supporting a loved one with a mental illness can be difficult and often at times we may feel at loss at what to do. This article will discuss a few simple ways of what you can do to support someone you care for with a mental illness. 

1. Educate

Educate yourself about their mental illness. Not knowing about their mental illness can often cause misunderstandings and tension between families and friends, and prevent us from giving effective help. Seeking out those relevant resources and finding out more can be beneficial in many ways, especially to understand someone's behaviour and actions better. 

2. Love and Support

Living with a mental health condition can be very scary and stressful. Reassure the person that you still love them and will support them, and that you are there for them. 

3. Be Realistic

The road to recovery isn't straight forwarded and often people experience many up's and down's on their wellbeing journey. As such, families and friends shouldn't automatically assume that their loved one will get better as soon as they are discharged from hospital or start seeing a psychologist. Set reasonable expectations such as encouraging their loved one to take 'day by day' or even 'hour to hour'. 

4. Reach out for Support

Looking after someone with mental illness can be tough! So make sure that you also have some good supports around you and that there is someone that you can talk to. Support groups have been found to be a great way to discuss and share ideas about how to help a loved one with their mental health condition. It OK to admit that you need some help too and reach out for support! 

5. Be Patient

Sometimes our loved ones are not ready to seek out support or they may have a different idea about what type of support they would like to receive. As a career, family or friend we want to be supportive and do what's best for our loved ones. That's why it's also very important for us to step back sometimes. Reassure them and that we are on their side and we are with them when they are ready to take the next step. 

(Image from Unsplash by Everton Vila)


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