Mental illnesses are caused by many different factors that work together, such as genetics, biology, environment, and life experiences.
Loved ones, such as family and friends, can play a big part in helping a person recover, work towards their goals, and stay well. Care and emotional support go a long way in recovery and well-being.
Here are ten ways to help make a difference:
- Emotional awareness - Concern, compassion, disbelief, anger, relief, anxiety, grief, love, guilt…any and all of these emotions are understandable and normal.
- Assistance - Practical help, like managing doctor’s appointments and other daily tasks.
- Encouragement - You can help them see hope at a time when they feel it the least, and help them get help in a timely manner when they need it.
- Education - Take time to learn more about mental illnesses. This will give you a better understanding of your loved one’s experiences and help you see what they may be going through.
- Connection - Embarrassment, social stigma and fear can stop many family members from seeking help when a loved one is struggling with a mental illness. Talk to trusted friends and family about your experiences.
- Support groups - Support groups are a good place to share your experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who understand what you’re going through.
- Blame - You are not to blame for a loved one’s mental illness. Blaming anyone does not help the situation. Realize that some emotions and behaviours may be beyond your loved one’s control.
- Self-care - You can’t care for someone else if you haven’t cared for yourself first. Take time for yourself. Schedule opportunities that allow you to relax, have fun and get away so you can come back to your loved one with a healthier, more balanced outlook.
- Seek help - Caring for others who are unwell can be stressful. Mental illness can also have a big impact on family relationships. Take advantage of a variety of resources that could help the entire family.
- Plan ahead - If your loved one experiences serious episodes that cause problems, it’s important to plan ahead for these problems. These plans—written during times of wellness—usually map out what will happen and who will be involved. If you feel your loved one might harm themselves, emergency measures can be necessary and might save their life in a crisis situation.