How You Can Help a Family Supporting a Mental Health Patient

Ways You Can Help A Family Struggling With A Mental Health Illness

 
by: Nellie Valentine
LISTEN
Families are overwhelmed when supporting a loved-one with mental illness.  Dealing with the erratic behavior, which sometimes lead to unsafe situations for their loved-one is just the beginning of the worry and stress they endure.  If their loved-one is suicidal, or threatening to harm others; processing that reality brings unimaginable overwhelm.  When these families reach out to you it is oftentimes simply to share their fear and anxiety.  Lending an ear and providing emotional support can go a long way.
PROVIDE RESOURCES
The entire process is one of learning for families and their loved-one.  Each person experiences mental health illness differently.  If you are able to, research and get information about the diagnosed illness and pass it to your family member or friend.  Remember that supporting your family member or friend is simply that.  Supporting. Please do not try to control what they do with your information.  They will know when to use it, or if necessary pass it on to their loved-one suffering with mental health illness.  Please do not make them feel judged if they are not following your advice.
TELL THEM YOU CARE
Nothing prepares someone for absorbing or processing the fact that their loved one has a severe mental illness.  Let alone attempting to end their life or threaten the lives of others.  When someone is supporting a loved-one with mental illness, they feel the stigma and isolation that is perpetuated with the illness.  They feel the judgement and unasked questions. Simply tell them you care and are thinking about them and praying for them and their loved-one.  Hearing caring and encouraging words can be a healing balm.