How to Love Someone with a Mental Illness
Having a friend or family member with a mental illness can be challenging. We all want to help and be supportive, but sometimes we just don’t know how.
The 6 Steps to Help a Loved One With Mental Illness
1) Express your concern.
Example: I notice you haven’t been sleeping as much/or quite a bit. What do you think is going on?
2) Ask compassionate questions.
Example: What could I do to help you get what you need?
Example: What would you like to share with me regarding how you feel?
3) Offer to do something with them and/or for them.
Example: Let’s get some ice cream, my treat.
Example: Let’s take the dog for a walk.
4) Offer reassurance.
Example: I love and care for you. I want you to feel better, too.
5) Gently remind or encourage your loved one to take their medication and go to their therapy appointments.
- Remember, it’s also okay to encourage them to write down what symptoms have been occurring or if they are feeling better, etc.
Example: I know you have an appointment coming up; what can I do to help you prepare?
6) In some cases, we may need to ask if they are safe.
Example: I’m worried about your safety. Have you thought about doing anything to hurt yourself?
At times, a loved one with a mental health issue doesn’t know what they need and they might get angry and express frustration. Hang in there. Try not to take it personally. Stay on track with your love and care for them, but also be direct. Someone in a mental health crisis may not be able to think clearly in that moment.
If you or a loved on is have a crisis like this, please contact a CHI Health Team Expert to learn more.
Original Published Date: Aug. 6, 2018
Revised Date: Feb. 22, 2021
Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.