Families and significant others must sway their focus from “dealing” with a mentally ill loved one to supporting them. There’s a difference. Supporting someone is about providing them with a positive environment that promotes control, understanding and emotional well-being. According to, PyschCentral you must be willing to take a few extra steps.
Educate yourself about the disorder/illness
Research shows that education works. Reduction in symptoms, hospitalization days and relapsing has been observed in individuals whose families were provided with education and involvement in their treatment. Families educated about their loved one’s illnesses are less prone to misconceptions and begin to grasp effective ways to deal with symptoms sooner. Know what you’re dealing with.
Seek out external resources and get involved in socio-political movements and support groups all relating to your loved one’s illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (http://www.nami.org/) is a great resource that helps and educates families about mental health nationwide. Empower yourself and show your loved one you really care by taking a stand for their betterment. The best way to do this is by getting involved in their treatment. Demand to be included in treatment team meetings and case discussions. Let the professionals who serve your loved one know that you demand updates on changes and progress.
Set appropriate limits while allowing your loved one to have control
Your loved one has a life. In many cases, they simply feel they’ve lost control of it. Respect their decisions, even when some seem unreasonable. Don’t stress minor hiccups or decisions you differ in opinion with. Allow them to make mistakes, and allow them to correct these mistakes on their own. Asking them if they’ve taken their meds every day can get intrusive and often goes unappreciated. Even when dealing with these difficult situations, giving them options is a better method of support. Instead of threatening them into compliance, give them options to choose from. It’s good to let them know what line not to cross, but to also let them know they’re the ones in control of crossing it.
Have the right mind frame
It’s not your fault. It’s not their fault. Blame is not permitted here. Understanding is the key to emotional support. Recognize your loved one’s courage. They are attempting to live a normal life after hospitalization or psychiatric treatment. It isn’t easy. But it doesn’t have to be hard. Be part of their solution.
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