If you have a family member suffering from a mental illness, the most important thing you can do is support him or her. It’s not always easy, but if you’re equipped with the right knowledge and understanding, you can better help the person you care about.
Here are some tips on showing support to a mentally ill family member:
Learn everything you can about the illness. Find out about what triggers flare-ups and do your best to eliminate them. You can do this through finding resources and information specific to the illness.
Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Even if someone has been hospitalized or is on medication, recovery isn’t instant. Be prepared to assist with an ongoing process to help the person get well.
Have a support team. Enlist the help of other family members and reach out to professionals who are experience with the type of mental illness you’re dealing with. Maintain open communication, listen to them, and allow them to help you get through the most difficult times.
Understand the shame associated with the illness. Your loved one might be ashamed of his or her condition, even though it’s not his or her fault. Accept that and do what you can to alleviate the guilt associated with the illness.
As you help your loved one through this difficult time, don’t forget to take care of yourself. That isn’t always easy, but no one will benefit if you wind up sick.