How to Help a Loved One with a Mental Illness

Man with arm around loved one

When someone you love is mentally unwell, whether it’s your partner, a sibling, or a parent, knowing how to support them is vital, even though it can be challenging and upsetting. For the person who is unwell, having your support can make the difference between recovery and an entirely different outcome.

Even if your loved one pushes you away, or denies that they need your help, just letting them know that you’re there is the best thing you can do. Here’s how to help a loved one with a mental illness;

Learn as much as you can about their condition: There are a lot of myths and stigma surrounding mental health, so learn the facts. There are some amazing resources out there. Why not complete some Mental Health First Aid training to learn about common mental illnesses, how to help someone in a crisis, and how to take care of yourself?

Ask them how you can help: Don’t just assume or guess what your loved one needs, ask them how you can help them. Don’t try to take over or force them to do anything, just be patient and compassionate.

Support them to contact their GP: This is an important first step on the way to helping your loved one get professional help. No matter how caring or supportive you feel you are, you have your limits, and you’re not a trained mental health professional.

Talk to someone: Supporting a loved one with a mental illness can be very stressful, so it’s absolutely fine to speak to a counsellor or therapist yourself if you feel like you need it. It will give you a place where you can freely deal with difficult feelings and emotions. Remember, you need to be well yourself if you want to be in any fit state to support someone else.

A few reminders

If you’re supporting a loved one who has a mental illness, remember that:

  • It’s important to look after yourself and not take too much on.
  • As much as you love someone, it’s not your job to ‘fix’ or ‘save’ them.
  • Just by being there for someone, you’re making a difference, even if you feel helpless.

More people are talking about mental health these days, but there’s a lot more to do. Education and raising awareness are the biggest steps we can take to make talking about mental health easier and more acceptable for everyone, whether it’s at home or in the workplace.

Our accredited training courses aim to raise awareness about mental health and empower people to talk about it.

Whether you’re a global company looking for a programme of staff training, or a local charity looking for a one-off training session, Traincon Learning can work with you to deliver the learning your organisation needs.

We’re professional, we’re friendly, and we are so proud of the work we do. We aim to provide every organisation with a high-quality and truly worthwhile learning experience.

Contact us today to find out what we can do for your organisation.

Bridget Woodhead