Helping A Family Member Cope With Mental Illness

The family plays a vital role in the development of a person’s mental health. People who suffer from mental illnesses find comfort in their families and loved ones. Coping with a mental illness does not depend on the individual alone because the family takes on a crucial responsibility to guide and support a member dealing with mental health issues.

General psychiatrist Dr. Niall Campbell, MD said, “It is easy for family members to feel guilt or blame themselves for their relative’s decline in mental health.” Indeed, mental illness affects not only the patient but his or her family members as well. Hence, the family needs to work together to address the mental health issues of a loved one. Here are some ways you can help a family member cope with mental illness.


Know The Warning Signs

When a person suffers from mental health issues, he or she is unlikely to disclose this matter expressly. Hence, it is crucial to learn more about the signs and symptoms of common mental health problems. Through this, you will be able to respond sensitively to the needs of your loved one.

Signs of common mental health problems include feeling sad and down, having low confidence, and a general lack of interest. A person suffering from mental illness may also lose his or her appetite and tire quickly. Also, notice if a family member is having difficulty concentrating or is frequently irritable. Be aware of significant changes in behavior, which may indicate that a family member has a mental illness.

By recognizing these warning signs, you can encourage your loved one to seek professional help. As a result, you may help prevent severe symptoms from developing.

Talk About Mental Health

Starting a conversation about mental health, especially to a family member, is challenging. But the relationship of the family plays a crucial role in initiating such a discussion. It helps determine the best approach in talking to a family member who may be suffering from mental health issues.

Begin by asking your family member how they are doing. Ask about what is troubling them. Express your willingness to listen. Most of the time, people who have a mental illness do not need someone to solve their problems. They need someone who cares, listens, and understands. Initiating a conversation on mental health with a family member can be difficult at first. It is necessary to listen carefully and to respect his or her feelings.

Encourage Treatment


Sometimes, support from family and friends is not enough. Certain mental health conditions require the intervention of a professional. They can provide the appropriate medication and treatment for your loved one.

Explain to your family member the importance of seeking professional help. Offer to make an appointment and to accompany your loved one to the doctor. You may also provide him or her with information on how to schedule a consultation. In encouraging treatment, be careful not to overstep your boundaries. Do not impose and control the decisions of your loved one.

Initially, your family member might refuse to seek professional help. This scenario is entirely normal. However, do not be hesitant to encourage them again after some time. But remember that if a family member is in danger of self-harm or harming others, seek professional intervention immediately.

Provide Emotional Support

If a family member has a mental illness, he or she needs you now more than ever. Whether you are a parent, child, or sibling, you play a crucial role in your loved one’s recovery. By being there, you can help a family member feel a little less alone.

Here are some ways to provide emotional support to a family member suffering from mental health issues:

  • Listen carefully and attentively to his or her rants and stories.
  • Avoid being judgmental.
  • When talking to each other, make sure to focus on his or her needs.
  • Always offer to help.
  • Reassure your loved one that you are there for him or her.
  • Try to be as understanding as possible.
  • Join support groups for family members.

Maintain A Healthy Family Environment


Help a family member cope with mental illness by fostering a positive, supportive, and loving family environment. Work together to build a happy home. Here are some ways to maintain a healthy family environment:

  • Regularly communicate with each other.
  • Immediately address conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Respect each other.
  • Spend quality time together.
  • Organize or participate in family bonding activities.

Take Care Of Yourself Too

In helping a loved one deal with mental health, you may tend to neglect your own. Make sure that you, too, take good care of yourself. Do not carry the burden on your own. Talk to other family members on how to work together. It is essential to be aware of your physical and emotional limitations to avoid exhaustion. By loving and caring for yourself, you can better express your love and care for your family members.

The family has an integral role to play in supporting persons with mental illness. Strengthening and preserving healthy family relationships can significantly improve a person’s mental and emotional well-being.