Friends & Family: Mental Health Support

Whether a loved one has been diagnosed with a mental health condition or is struggling with the emotional consequences of substance abuse, it can be hard for friends and family members to know how to provide appropriate support. However, this type of support isn’t just possible — it’s crucial for recovery.

First and foremost, it is essential that you learn to respect any boundaries that are set up as part of the recovery process. These boundaries might be established by mental health services professionals, or by your loved one. These guidelines are there for a reason, often to help someone who has been struggling with substance abuse regain independence and self-control. Overstepping your bounds will only do more harm than good.

So what can you do to help? Start by learning about your loved one’s condition. This can give you a better appreciation of what they’re going through and help you resist judgmental impulses. Don’t be afraid to ask mental health services providers for learning resources and for more ideas about what you should (or shouldn’t) do to assist your loved one.

While you might be able to occasionally help by providing rides to appointments or group meetings, the best thing you can do is offer a compassionate, listening ear. Letting your loved one know that you support and respect them can improve self-esteem and give them increased motivation to remain on the road to recovery.