5 Ways to Support a Family Member With a Mental Health Problem

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There are few things more saddening than seeing somebody you love struggle with a mental health problem. It can suck the joy out of a family home, make the usual get-togethers more problematic, and set off internal alarm bells because you think that you, in some way, have contributed to the condition or at least could have prevented it. It’s now, however, that your family member needs you to be strong. With your guidance, they can focus on getting themselves back to their best.

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Be Supportive

People are suffering from mental health problems usually don’t like to shout from the rooftops about it. They keep it bottled up, which makes a recovery all the more difficult. Only when they’re able to open up and accept that they need help that the recovery process can begin. As a loving family member, you’ll need to be on hand to offer support. Let them know that you’re there to listen should they need a sympathetic ear to talk to. Getting over a mental illness is difficult enough; make sure they know they’re in a safe space and can take as much time as they need.

Get Informed

Your kindness and understanding will go a long way to making your family member feel comfortable, but you’ll be able to help them more by being informed about the illness that they’re suffering from. Some conditions, like bipolar disorders, can feel alien, or even scary to people who don’t know the symptoms or why a person is acting that way. Get informed. Read through a website talking more about bipolar depression and you’ll be strengthening your ability to help. If you’re educating yourself, you might also discover something about mental illness than even the sufferer did not know, too.

Create the Systems

Each case of mental illness is different, but they do share some similarities. There are some things that can help anybody, whether they have a condition or not. If your family member still lives in the family home, then you’ll be helping in a small but effective way by creating routines, making sure they’re eating properly and looking after their hygiene, and that they have somewhere to go, so they’re not alone. If your family had a habit of everybody spending time in their rooms, you could change this so that instead people socialize in the living room in the evenings, for example.

Create Boundaries

It’s tempting to be overly kind when we’re helping a family member. However, it’s important that establish what is acceptable and what is not. If a family member is lashing out or being disrespectful to other people, you won’t be helping them if you don’t let them know that they can’t do that.

Look After Yourself

Our desire to help can be strong, but unfortunately, this can manifest itself in ways that can be more damaging. If we’re dropping everything to look after our family member, then other areas of our lives, such as other family members, our careers, and overall happiness will suffer. You need to be at your best if you’re going to help your son, daughter, brother, sister, or a parent through their difficult time.


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