Posted: November 17, 2017 22:23 by aleonard

10 Ways to Support a Loved One With a Mental Illness


Accepting a mental health diagnosis can be very difficult. Having a mental illness or having a loved one with a mental illness presents many challenges and is not an easy road to travel. It is important to remember that you did not cause your own mental illness or a loved one’s mental illness and you most certainly cannot cure one either.


A family will be most successful dealing with a mental disorder when:

  • The disorder is identified early and the family works as a team with their loved one to seek treatment and help them to develop and maintain positive coping mechanisms. If their loved one has insurance or the financial means, the family may consider their own treatment as an adjunct to their loved one’s treatment.

  • The person affected is willing to seek help and comply with the treatment plan. This is key.

  • The family plays an active role in their loved one’s recovery. The loved one can’t do this alone. It is important for them to have a support system in place.


Ways to Support a Loved One

  1. Educate yourself about the illness: Being educated about the illness not only involves you in the recovery process but helps you understand that the actions your loved one exhibits are not in their control.

  2. Seek out resources and support: Reading publications and seeking treatment can help educate you about the illness.

  3. Have realistic expectations: It is important that you and your loved one undergoing treatment have realistic expectations regarding their treatment and recovery.

  4. Work closely with your loved one’s treatment team: Let treatment providers and centers know you are involved and hold them accountable.

  5. Let your loved ones have control: Allow them to attempt tasks you may not think they are capable of completing. Do not deny them the opportunity to be in control.

  6. Encourage your loved one to talk about their mental health: Remind them they are in control of their bodies and active participants in their treatment. They set the tone with others about how and what they are comfortable discussing.  

  7. Realize the feelings of guilt and shame are normal: These feelings are typical reactions and should be expected.

  8. Help yourself: It is ok to ask for help for yourself too. You are encouraged to ask for help for yourself especially when you think you are handling a situation such as this “just fine.” Chances are you aren’t.

  9. Eat together as a family - families that eat together regularly are less likely to be violent or experience emotional stress. Regular mealtimes create a sense of belonging and connection and can actually reduce the chances of teenagers turning to drugs or alcohol.

  10. Give encouragement to yourself or your loved one: Convey hope to your loved one. Let them know recovery in within their reach. Know that your recovery is part of their recovery.



If You’re On Your Own


If your family is not there to support you, it’s important to remember that you still deserve to have people in your life who care about you and want to help you. You’ll just have to look harder for them.


·      Friends. Find friends who will be close to you, support you, and not leave at the first sign of trouble (like when you have a bad day). True friends can help fill the hole left by your family. You may feel somewhat isolated at first, but as you work through your issues, you may find it easier to make and maintain stronger and more meaningful friendships in the future.


·      Support Groups. Another great way to have understanding and support is open support groups. They can help you identify certain problems in your life, while also making connections to other like-minded people.


·      Mental health professionals. You may have no one in your personal life you feel you can talk to without being judged by them. Seek out an objective third party to honestly listen. This could be a conversation between you and your psychologist, therapist, doctor, psychiatrist, or other professional. Most are glad they did.


·      Education. Books, websites, brochures, or anything about your disorder can help you better understand what is happening to you and what you can do about it. Talk about it with others and listen to what you are saying to them. This helps with acceptance and actually increases your knowledge of the illness.


·      Spirituality. A belief in something larger than yourself—whether it is your religion, faith, or just an overall connection to humanity can help and is highly correlated with those that choose not to end their own lives.


·      Music. A lot of people find music to be a release when they don’t have the words, the time, or just don’t know what to say or do. However, be careful in your choice of music—it can help you release a lot of emotions, but for some people, particular kinds of music can actually serve to reinforce negative feelings.


·      Healthy Lifestyle Choices. This may be the most important component when trying to break out of the damage your family dynamic created.


Dr. Lee Ann Lehman


Dr. Lee Ann Lehman focuses on the entire family as she helps to resolve complex issues. Her approach is different because she thinks outside the box to help guide you to the best solution(s) tailored to fit your needs. She works alongside you empowering you with the tools to gain control of your situation. Using respect, kindness, and understanding, she helps you to feel that is OK to seek help rather be embarrassed by your situation. Her techniques are evidence-based and proven to be effective. As a result, she can help families learn coping skills to help deal with complex mental health issues such as bipolar disorders, anxiety, and depression stemming from situations such as divorce, substance abuse, and trauma.


She is driven by her practice’s mission statement: “To increase an individual’s and/or family’s ability to cope with difficult situations using acceptance, understanding, education and guided practice with the tools necessary to restore confidence and freedom from the burden of emotional and physical stress.”


Call today at 561-701-3159 or visit the website at to obtain answers to your questions and to schedule your appointment.


The Family Psychologist

430 26th St

West Palm Beach, FL 33407

(561) 701-3159


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About Dr. Lehman

Dr. Lehman is a recognized change agent in the field of psychology. Her passion is to find ways to achieve what each client needs – even when others say, “it can’t be done." As such, she encourages her clients to think about things differently in order to achieve their desired outcomes. Dr. Lehman brings honesty, empathy and discretion to all clients.

Dr. Lehman earned her doctoral degree in school psychology at the University of Florida and holds master’s degrees in the areas of school psychology, social agency counseling, PK-3rd grade teaching and special education. She brings more than two decades of experience working with those with emotional and behavioral disorders, personality disorders and substance abuse.

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    430 26th St West Palm Beach , FL 33407

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