- Educate yourself; Without education, it’s hard to grasp and appreciate the severity of the symptoms, such as the terrifying thoughts associated with schizophrenia or the suicidal ideation of depression.
- Seek out resources; Such as books or articles about your loved ones illness.
- Have realistic expectations; Don’t assume that because your loved one came out of the hospital or are on medication that they’re going to go back to their everyday normal routine. They need to ease back into it to avoid feeling overwhelmed and having a relapse.
- Reach out for support; It’s not just a change and recovery for the ill loved one, you’re going through a lot as well. Take care of yourself as well. Some good support groups are NAMI (national alliance on mental illness) as well as MHA (mental health america).
- Work closely with your loved one’s treatment team; Ask them if they would like to have you go to a therapy session with them or just ask them how you can help.
- Let your loved one have control; People with a mental illness already feels like they have lost control of their lives. Don’t make them feel like their illness has any more control then they already think. Treat them with the same respect you did before it all. Help them set up systems to help them through it, but allow all decisions to ultimately be up to them.
- Encourage them to speak to a professional; If your loved one is complaining about medication side effects, or life situations, encourage (not tell) them to write what bothers them down and to speak to their psychiatrist and/or therapist about it.
- Set appropriate limits; Yes, it’s important to treat your loved one with respect and allow them to exercise control, t is just as necessary to set limits for the sake of everyones well being.
- Establish equality; When establishing limits and support for your loved one, don’t leave them out as ‘the sick one’ allow them to be apart of these decisions.
- Realize that feelings of shame and guilt are normal; But also realize that you are not the one that cause this disorders. A lot of disorders are a result of genetics or biology.
- Recognize your loved ones courage; We see people who are physically ill as being courageous. Look at your loved one the same way. Acknowledge that it takes courage to battle of the debilitating symptoms every day and to seek and stay in recovery.
- Help yourself; You’re in a much better position to help another if you help yourself.
- Be calm; Your actions can influence your loved one and impact their symptoms.
- Convey hope; Remind your loved one that there is a light at the end of the tunnel if they stay on the path they are on.