Watching a family or close friend experience a mental health challenge can be extremely difficult; not
only for the affected individual but for those on the sidelines, offering support.Often, at first, coping
with this new reality is insurmountable. Yet, over time, family, friends and loved onesgain the skills to
manage these challenges effectively. And, for the individuals suffering from mental health challenges, support from family and loved ones can be an essential element in their recovery process.
As the supportive family or friend, it is best to educate yourself on mental health challenges, or the
specific diagnosis, if there is one. Beyond that, here are some additional things to consider when helping
a loved one through a challenge:
It is not your faultor responsibility to manage a loved ones mental health struggle. Instead, if symptoms
worsen, which in some cases they do, remain empathetic. The situation is challenging and is not
anyone’s fault. In all cases, acceptance of the challengeor diagnosis, is a critical step in seeking
treatment and improving outcomes. Mental health treatment is a journey which can involve multiple
forms of medications and therapy. Acceptance and patience is critical.
If you feel anger or resentment, try and direct that negative energy toward the illness rather than the
person. This can be challenging, especially in cases where the symptoms seem personal. However,
please remember challenging or uncharacteristic behavior can be a symptom of the disorder and the
best way to help is to remain respectful, compassionate, and understanding. Certainly, offering practical
support with transportation, finances and more can be helpful as well.
Make sure to take care of yourself. It is important for you to have your physical and emotional needs
met, especially if you are the primary caretaker. Therefore, you may want to consider psychotherapy for
yourself. These situations can lead togrief, guilt, fear, anger, sadness, hurt, confusion and more. A
therapist can help. Support groups are also available for family members and can be a fantastic
resource, giving you the space necessary to express yourself.