Seeing a loved one suffer is one of the most difficult things to go through. While many people have experienced taking care of someone with an illness, , supporting someone who has a mental illness is more complicated due to the stigma and silence that surrounds it.
We are taught to recognize signs of physical illness and basic treatment. For example, telling someone they may need to go to the doctor or knowing what to do if someone chokes or gets a cut can save a lot of lives.
However, mental health first aid is not taught, and suggesting that someone go talk to a therapist can be viewed as insulting. This leaves individuals and loved ones feeling helpless and isolated without the knowledge or tools to help someone heal. Just like a physical illness, the longer a mental illness goes untreated, the harder it is to recovery.
My focus in individual counseling for people with a loved one with a mental illness is to help process the complex feelings one typically experiences (sadness, anger, resentment, helplessness, etc.). I also help people gain insight and education about their loved one’s’ illness or behaviors, so they can learn the skills they need to support themselves and their loved ones. Many people experience chronic sorrow that can be difficult to explain or process. Getting support for oneself can feel overwhelming when caring for someone who has a lot of needs. However, therapy and support can benefit your loved one’s recovery along with personal health. NAMI is a great resource that provides free education and support groups.