Health > How to Respectfully Handle Loved Ones Dealing with Mental Health Issues
13th Jul 2022
Living With A Mental Health Know You DO'S Don'ts!

How to Respectfully Handle Loved Ones Dealing with Mental Health Issues

Each person is unique, and every situation is different. You may be concerned about the person’s behaviour or diagnosis. Your loved one may know you well and can help you decide on the best support or approach. Here are some tips to help your loved one.


1. Know the warning signs of mental health problems

You might notice withdrawal from social interactions, abnormal problems at school, work, or social activities, or changes in appetite and sleep patterns. These symptoms or experiences do not necessarily indicate a mental illness; however, they could be a sign that there are other problems or issues. A medical professional can help you identify issues and prevent other serious symptoms and conditions.


2. How to Get Started and Approach the Issue

It may be the most difficult step, but it is also the most important one. It doesn’t take you to be an expert or have all the answers. Be open to listening and being there for them. Talk about it; Reassure them you care about them and that you are available for them. Use “I” statements. For example, “I am concerned about you …,” I would like you to talk with a counsellor….”.” Instead of “You are ….”,” or “You should….”.

Be patient and compassionate, and don’t judge their thoughts or actions. Listen to the person; don’t judge or contest their feelings.

Encourage them if they feel more comfortable talking to a mental health provider or their primary care provider. Some people find it helpful to think about how they would react if there were physical health issues. If someone was concerned about high blood pressure or diabetes, would they likely seek medical attention? Remind them that asking for help is a sign of being strong.


3. Learn more about mental health conditions and treatments

Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s condition, symptoms, possible treatments, and what to expect.


4. Help to Remove Potential Barriers

You should anticipate and address any barriers the person in need of help may face. Find out about the local resources that can help. You can also research potential therapists and their hours, locations, and insurance issues to make the process easier. You can address any barriers by addressing transportation, childcare, communication strategies with employers, and other issues.


5. Get Support for Yourself

While your focus is on helping your loved ones, taking care of yourself is also important. If you need help, reach out to others. Recognise your limitations and accept them.

Victoria Maxwell, the blogger, writes: “When I saw my mother with severe depression, anxiety, I was both worried and angry. I needed someone to talk openly about my frustrations and hurts without fear of offending her. Qualified therapists offer clarity, objectivity, and solutions that are not available elsewhere. They also provide a safe place to deal with your emotions in these difficult situations.

Family support groups such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America are valuable resources for information, mutual support, and understanding. NAMI offers a Family to Family training program and ongoing peer-led support for family members.


6. Expectations and collaboration

Realistic expectations are important, and it is not an easy process. There will likely be setbacks and improvements along the way. You can help your loved ones by working with their treatment team.

Even if your actions and support aren’t making a significant difference to your friend or relative, they likely are. Your loved one might be in pain and may not recognise your actions or express appreciation, but it can help them recover by knowing that you are there.



Friends and family members may want to be updated on the person’s situation, including medication and living arrangements, as the person may prefer privacy.

Your job as a psychological health worker is to ensure that these conversations are managed, and stress levels are kept as low as possible.



How should families deal with a mentally ill family member?

Make sure you show patience and care to them when you are with them and try not to be judgmental towards what they think and how they feel. Try to listen; do not ignore or question the person’s feelings. We recommend that they talk to a mental health provider, or should they feel more comfortable speaking to their primary care provider about their concerns.


What is the nurse’s most important role in caring for a client with a mental health disorder?

Nurses may need to adopt the following strategy to care for a patient with mental illness: First, assess the patient’s mental state. Ensure that you can communicate well with the patient and take the time to build a rapport with them.


What should be included in a mental health care plan?

There will likely be a need to consider both the medical treatment for mental illness (along with the medications) and the maintenance of the physical and mental health state.