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Living with a Mentally Ill Person

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 How can I help someone with mental illness?
 How can I help myself?

Mental illness is a health condition that involves the brain. Mental illness causes problems with thinking, mood, or behavior that interfere with daily life and cause distress. If you have someone in your life who is mentally ill, it may be hard to understand why they just can't stop these behaviors. You may feel:

It is important to remember that you can't:

How can I help someone with mental illness?

Work together with the person who is ill and their mental health professionals. You may not be able to care for or support the person without help. Be honest about this when you talk to the person with the mental illness and to healthcare providers, therapists, and case managers. Group homes, supervised apartments, or residential treatment programs may be options. If you decide to help care for or support the person at home, here are some tips:

How can I help myself?

Understand that the person has an illness. There are treatments and possibly medicine for it, just like a heart problem. You need information about mental illness and how it affects your life and family. This will help you know what to expect and what to do. Spend time learning more about the illness.

Don’t ignore your own needs while you try to meet the needs of another person. Caring for someone with mental illness can take a lot of energy. Schedule time for yourself to relax and relieve your stress.

For more information, contact:

healthinformatics info


Family Psychoeducation for Serious Mental Illness (Evidence-Based Practices) by Harriet P. Lefley

The effectiveness and active ingredients of mutual support groups for family caregivers of people with psychotic disorders: a literature review. Chien WT, Norman I. Int J Nurs Stud. 2009 Dec;46(12):1604-23. Epub 2009 May 28. Review.

Support Efforts for Caregivers of Chronically Ill Persons. Glasdam S, Timm H, Vittrup R. Clin Nurs Res. 2010 May 12.

"Caregiver's Guide to Living with Mental Illness." MentalWellness. Janssen, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Web. janssen, division of ortho-mcneil-janssen pharmaceuticals, inc. .

"Mental Illness - Information for Family and Friends." Better Health Channel. Web. .

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Last Modified: 2014-08-28

Last Reviewed: 2014-06-10

Website Updated: August 2015

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Published by RelayHealth. © 2014 RelayHealth and/or one of its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

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