How to Support a Loved One with Mental Illness

Woman comforting friend with a hand on her back

Mental illness affects millions of people worldwide. If you know someone who is struggling with their mental health, it can be difficult to know how to support them. While it’s important to seek professional help, you can also play an important role in your loved one’s recovery.

In this blog post, we will discuss some ways you can support your loved ones with mental illness.

Caring for People with Mental Illness

1. Educate Yourself

One of the best things you can do to support your loved one is to educate yourself about their mental illness. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, or another condition, it can be difficult to not know what to expect from a mental illness. However, taking the time to learn about it can make a world of difference. Research the signs and symptoms of their illness, as well as evidence-based treatments and coping mechanisms. This will help you better understand their experiences and how to support them.

A man researching on a laptop

2. Be a Good Listener

Most people with mental illness feel isolated and misunderstood, making it difficult to have conversations with others about what they are experiencing. One of the most important things you can do is be there to listen to your loved one without judgment or criticism. Remember that their illness is not their fault.

Encouraging discussion, being curious about what they are experiencing, asking questions, not making assumptions, actively listening, and validating their feelings could all be beneficial in creating a space where your loved one will feel safe to open up to you.

3. Help with Routine Tasks

People with untreated mental health issues may struggle to take care of themselves. Another way you can support your loved one is to offer help with daily tasks, such as cooking or cleaning. You can also invite them to take part in activities that promote mental wellness, like going for a walk or playing a board game.

Two friends cooking

4. Recognize Warning Signs

If you suspect a loved one may be struggling with mental illness, it’s important to remain observant and understanding. Pay attention to any warning signs like self-destructive behavior, substance abuse, or extreme changes in their sleeping patterns. Reach out to them with empathy and compassion, expressing your concern and offering support. Encourage them to seek professional help and reassure them that seeking treatment is a brave and necessary step towards healing.

Important note: If you think your loved one needs support ASAP or is at risk of hurting themselves or others, contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. More information is available at

5. Take Care of Yourself

Supporting a loved one with mental illness requires a lot of emotional effort. It’s important to take care of yourself to avoid burnout and to be an effective support system. Get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and set healthy boundaries for all of your relationships to maintain emotional balance.

Supporting someone you care about with mental illness can be challenging, but it is also incredibly important for their recovery. Remember that your loved one is not their illness and that they deserve love and compassion like anyone else. By educating yourself, being a good listener, offering help and encouragement, and taking care of yourself, you can be a source of strength for your loved one.

But you’re not in this alone. Our mental health providers at Rural Psychiatry Associates specialize in a wide range of mental health conditions to ensure your friends and family members with mental illness get the professional help they need to not just survive, but thrive in their personal and professional lives.

To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, reach out to our team today.

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