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Helping a Loved One with Mental Illness

No one can fully prepare for the experience of having a loved one develop a mental illness.

Whether a partner, parent or child, the emotional rollercoaster that ensues is quite difficult to deal with.

All in all, when dealing with the effects of a loved one suffering from any mental health condition, from depression to dementia, the situation needs to be managed and treated with care and consideration for the patient.

Here are 5 tips for coping with a time when you can feel low or even fairly helpless.


They say, ‘knowledge is power’ for a reason.

Getting a greater understanding of the condition itself, including information on the causes, symptoms, effects and prognosis helps hugely.

Equally, getting up to speed on any current research being undertaken and seeking advice from the medical professionals can contribute to a wider understanding of what you’re facing, how the illness might progress and how it can be managed.

To keep informed further and remain in the loop; requesting to be included in any medical consultations can prove invaluable.


It will help to understand and keep in mind that the actions and/or thoughts of your loved one are not within their control.

Knowing so is useful when considering aggressive or generally viewed as bizarre behaviour or even a state of depression, where the patient is not deliberately acting in such a way and has no ability to curb their actions or ‘snap out’ of their depression or anxiety.

If you can hold on to the fact that any fluctuations in mood and behaviour, particularly when directed towards you, are in no way personal or intended to hurt you, it can be less upsetting.

The bottomline is, you must try not to allow the mental illness to affect your relationship with your loved one as much as you possibly can.


It goes without saying that if a loved one is facing mental health issues, be supportive and encouraging, in terms of recognising your loved one’s efforts in any treatment received.

People are so often (rightly) applauded for their strength in fighting physical illnesses, such as cancer or diabetes, but sometimes, not so much with regard to mental illness.

Don’t forget that support is needed – and available – for more than just the patient. Get support for the family too as the shared experiences of support groups can prove invaluable in a multitude of ways and make you better able to cope.

Knowing that others have experienced similar issues and learning from both their successes and where, with the benefit of hindsight, they might have dealt with something a little differently, is a great source of support


To keep stress levels down, keep calm and diffuse any volatile situation where you can.

In addition, try, wherever possible, to include your loved one in any decision making, giving them respect and treating them with compassion and empathy.

Choose your battles so that you allow your loved one to make their own decision on the smaller things, so that they at least feel in control of certain aspects of their lives and equally.

Also, encourage them to write down any questions they might have about symptoms or medication, so that they can put their queries at their next appointment.

All these small bits add up to provide added support to your suffering loved one and keeps your relationships healthy.


Routine is a key factor to helping someone with mental health issues.

Keeping to times allocated for meals, sleep, exercise and taking medication together with written schedules and lists can all help.

In addition, doing so can help in both allowing you to see if your loved one is heading off course and additionally aiding them to feel calmer and more in control.

Overall, taking one day at a time; keeping channels of communication open with your loved one and their medical professionals and taking any support where offered, will all help in this difficult time.

To learn more, get in touch with us today and check our court of protection solicitor services.

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