When A Close Friend Has A Mental Illness
Suggestions for coping more effectively when someone close to you has a mental illness.
Supporting Someone with Bipolar - For Family and Friends
A friend of a person experiencing a mental illness may encounter common difficulties. Although situations differ, there are basic suggestions to help to facilitate a smoother adjustment.
- Understand that behavior may change from day to day.
- Learn as much as you can about the illness from mental health professionals.
- Encourage the person to keep appointments with mental health professionals and to take medications as prescribed. This will help in stabilizing the illness.
- Encourage the person to avoid alcohol and "street" drugs. These substances may interfere with the effectiveness of medications.
- Be open and direct with the person when talking about the illness or treatment. Don't keep secrets.
- Be a good listener. Open communication is good for everyone.
- Do not be frightened by or hide the fact that someone you care for is mentally ill.
- Be clear and firm that lying and violence are not acceptable ways to get needs met.
- Remember that improvement takes time and may not be easy to see on a day-to-day basis.
- Treat the person as an adult.
- Avoid words like "never" and "always" when the person repeats past mistakes. Be positive.
- Realize that criticism usually makes things more difficult
- Remember that everyone makes mistakes.
- Expect adult behavior and encourage self-reliance.
- Point out with pleasure the small tings that the person does well.
- Say clearly what you want from the person. Remember to be understanding.
- Suggest to the person that personal appearance is important. Offer help if necessary.
- Keep your promises so the person knows you can be counted on.
- Take care of yourself. Eat, sleep, exercise and play. Consider joining a support group.
- Relax and do your best. Avoid worrying that what you do will make the person worse.
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Staff, H. (2008, December 28). When A Close Friend Has A Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/articles/when-someone-close-to-you-has-a-mental-illness
Last Updated: April 7, 2017