Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to help your loved one who has a mental illness

I thought I'd follow up the post on 'My Illness' with an informational article on some suggestions for helping your loved one who has a mental illness.  People in my life have wanted to help but haven't always known how.  Sometimes even well-meaning people have totally said the wrong things to.

The primary suggestion that I have that works for me is:  When I need to talk, just listen.  I'm not expecting you to have the right things to say, nor am I expecting (or wanting) advice.

Good things to say:

  • I know you have a real illness and that's what causes these thoughts & feelings.
  • I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel but I care and want to help.
  • What can I do to help?
  • You are not alone in this - I am here for you.
  • Talk to me - I'm listening.

Things to avoid saying that will make the situation worse:

  • You have so much to live for, why would you want to die.
  • Suicide is a selfish decision.
  • Here's my advice...
  • It's all in your head.
  • We all go through times like this.
  • Just snap out of it - Look on the bright side.
Alot of the above is taken from 


  1. What you write is so true, Alicia, and a service to all for you to post it.

    Especially the advice about listening; attentively, quietly, and without assuming to know what another is really experiencing.

    Perhaps the most valuable gift people can give each other is that kind of listening.

    I really admire your concern for others and your courage in putting so personal a journey into the public realm.


  2. Thanks for the informative post. It can be really hard to just listen and not respond/offer advice. I'm guilty of that myself sometimes.