Helping Others

The support of family and friends is critical to help someone cope with mental illness. It is also important to take care of yourself, seeking support and advice to nurture your own life, too. Here are some ways to support a person coping with mental illness:

Take care of yourself

Connect with resources in your community. Many also have support for loved ones caring for a person with mental illness. Meeting others who have been through the phases of recovery reminds us that we’re not alone. Nurture your own life to maintain your individuality.

Listen

Listening is hearing someone without thinking about what you want to say next. It’s turning off distractions and focusing on what the person is saying. Ask for clarification throughout and offer advice only when asked.

Be patient

Getting well takes time and can include trying different treatments. It’s a process that will shift and will need to be nurtured.

Remember the individual

Mental illness can be caused by genetics, trauma, or chemical imbalance. Your loved one has a mental illness, but it’s not the individual’s fault. Reiterate that out loud to the person you are supporting.

Be hopeful

Recognize the positive steps, no matter how small. Reiterate these milestones to your loved one to show the progress that’s possible through treatment, time and support.

Encourage responsibility

Encourage individuals with mental illness to take responsibility for what they can control in their lives, such as their treatment plan.

If you suspect a person is suicidal

Ask directly if the person is thinking about suicide. Talking openly about suicide can bring relief to someone who has been afraid to confide their suicidal thoughts. Try to listen in a non-judgmental way without becoming upset. Then tell someone who can help.

Facilitate support

Connect with support in your community. Support can also be felt through offering company to appointments.


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The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in Alberta is made up of eight regions. Additionally CHMA in Alberta includes the Centre for Suicide Prevention and a Divisional (Provincial) office located in Edmonton.

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