Getting Help for a Family Member with a Mental Illness

If you have a family member struggling with a mental illness, you are most likely wondering what you can do to help. Psychiatric services, medications, and various community services have enabled many individuals to lead full, independent lives. However, support from family, friends, and peers remains essential in the recovery process.

There are several ways you can help a family member with a mental illness navigate the treatment and work toward recovery. Just like any relationship, emotional and practical support is necessary. Occasionally, family and friends participate in recovery by providing transportation, financial aid, or housing assistance. Whatever form they take, your support, compassion, and respect matter.

However, knowing the specifics of when and how to give support can be challenging to determine. Although you may want to protect your family member, remember that learning to manage one’s personal affairs, pursue goals, and become independent is vital for every recovery.

Support Strategies

Here are some tips for supporting a family member with mental illness:

Encouraging a Family Member to Seek Help

While symptoms of severe mental illnesses vary, the following signs are the more common:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Difficulty functioning at work or school
  • Problems with memory and rational thinking
  • Feeling disconnected from reality
  • Changes in sleeping, eating and hygiene habits
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you are concerned a family member is exhibiting these signs, remain calm. While you may imagine a worst-case scenario, signs of mental illness can overlap with other problems. Don’t let your fear of a diagnosis prevent you from encouraging the person who you believe needs professional help to do so.

If your family member is hesitant to see a psychologist, suggest a visit to a general physician — you can even offer to accompany them to the appointment. 

Taking a Holistic Approach to Mental Health

At Hope Springs Behavioral Health Center, our mental health therapists conduct a thorough psychiatric evaluation to determine the best path to recovery for your beloved family member. Based on the assessment, a personalized outpatient treatment plan can be recommended.

For more information about how to help a family member with mental illness or our behavioral health services, contact us today.


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