When someone you love and care about experiences the symptoms of mental illness, you face unique challenges yourself, including complex family dynamics, social isolation and often unpredictable behavior. Getting support for yourself is essential for you to be able to be helpful for the person you care about.
Learn more about your loved one’s condition. Learning about the condition your loved one experiences will help you better understand and support them. Read personal accounts of lived experience, full of tips and advice on the NAMI website (www.NAMI.org)
Recognize early symptoms. Depression often has warning signs, such as a low mood, feeling fatigued or having trouble sleeping. Discuss your friend or family member’s past episodes with them to help them improve their ability to recognize the signs early.
Communicate. Speak honestly and kindly. Don’t scold or blame people with depression or urge them to “try harder” to “just be happy.” Instead, make specific offers of help and follow through with those offers. Tell the person you care about them. Ask them how they feel and truly listen.
React calmly and rationally. Even if your family member or friend is in a crisis, it’s important to remain calm. Listen to their concerns and make them feel understood—then take the next step toward getting help.
Find emotional support from others. Share your thoughts, fears and questions with other people who have loved ones with similar conditions. Connect with others through online message boards.
Listen and be kind.
** NAMI 2017