How you might feel

It’s entirely normal to experience a range of emotions when a loved one is diagnosed with a serious mental illness. Guilt, shame, disbelief, fear, anger and grief are all common reactions. You are not to blame for a loved one’s mental illness. Mental illnesses are caused by many different factors that work together, such as genetics, biology, environment and life experiences.

What you can do

Learn more
Take time to learn more about mental illnesses. This will give you a better understanding of your loved one’s experiences and help you see what they may be going through. You can find reliable information online, through provincial or territorial health services, and through community organizations.

Stay Connected
Embarrassment, social stigma, and fear can stop many family members from seeking help when a loved one is diagnosed with a mental illness. But that can isolate you at a time when you need the most support from others. Talk to trusted friends and family and let them know what you’re experiencing.

Join a support group
Support groups are a good place to share your experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who understand what you’re going through. Please see Mrs Davies for details of local groups in the area.

Take time for yourself
If you are caring for a loved one, your responsibilities may use up your physical and emotional energy.  t’s important to take time for yourself.  It can help you recharge and give you a more balanced perspective toward any challenges you experience. Schedule opportunities that allow you to relax, have fun and get away so you can come back to your loved one with a healthier outlook.  You can’t care for someone else if you haven’t cared for yourself first.

Seek help for yourself
Caring for a loved one who is unwell can be stressful. Seek help if you find your own well-being slipping, and encourage family members to seek help if they need it. Mental illness can also have a big impact on family relationships.  It’s a good idea to seek counselling for the entire family.

Develop coping strategies for challenging behaviours
There may be times when a loved one shows strange or challenging behaviours that can make you feel confused, embarrassed, or scared. This can happen in public or in private. Learn more about your options.

  • plan the best strategies for the situation.
  • understand that this is not personal.
  • realise that some behaviours may be beyond your loved one’s control. They may be as distressing to them as they are to you.

It can be incredibly stressful and emotional draining supporting a family member or close friend with a mental illness. The following websites have some good advice on how to cope.

Rethink mental illness - www.rethink.org/carers-family-friends/what-you-need-to-know/supporting-someone-with-a-mental-illness

Mind.org.uk - www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/mental-health-problems-introduction/for-friends-family

Youngminds.org.uk - www.youngminds.org.uk/for_children_young_people/whats_worrying_you/mental_illness_family

Within school you may also like to join our Young Carers group. Talk to Mrs Flint if you would like more information about this. flintj@jhn.herts.sch.uk.

Further resources can also be found on the Health and Wellbeing page of our website