Supporting a Family Member Through Mental Illness

Mental Illnesses are sicknesses that impact one’s behavior, thoughts, feelings, and moods. Some series ones include bipolar, schizophrenia, OCD, major depressive disorder, and PTSD. Living with a mental illness needs its own type of support but being a support person for someone living with a mental illness also needs support.

The first and most important way that you can support your loved one during this time is to encourage them to seek help. When someone is dealing with a mental illness they may be in denial, embarrassed, ashamed, or confused. It is NOT your job to heal them, fix them, or solve their problems. It can be your job to assist them in getting the right help they need though. This can look like individual outpatient therapy, group therapy, a support group, a day program at a hospital, or an inpatient psychiatrist hospitalization.  

Secondly, remember your role. You are there to love and care for this person and in order to do that you must love and care for yourself. Make sure you are incorporating a self-care practice every day. This could be exercise, taking a bath, reading a good book, spending time with others, or some other enjoyable hobby.  

Find an outlet, whether personal or professional, to process your own emotions. Loving someone with a mental illness can create a lot of emotions within yourself and it is important to air those appropriately without shaming the person who is dealing with the mental illness.  

Most mental illnesses are very treatable with therapy, resources, medication, support, and time. Remember to be patient with your loved one and have open and honest conversations as to how you can assist them during this time.