Caring for Someone with Mental Illness

Caring for Someone with Mental Illness

Did you know that by the time we reach 40 years of age, half of us will have had or will develop a mental health problem?

On World Mental Health Day, we spoke to Leeya Schachter, therapist at JFS, who offers counselling for clients on a one-to-one basis as well as group workshops on managing anxiety, self-care, and other mental health topics. Leeya offers some advice on how to care for someone in your life affected by mental illness.

  1. Recognize that mental illness is a disease. One of the biggest challenges for family and friends is to realize mental illness is not something you can overcome by willpower. It’s not about mind over matter. Mental illness, like depression, is a disease, not a state of mind.
  2. Ask “how are you?” One of the best things you can do is ask someone how they are and make space to listen. So often we avoid conversations about mental health or illness because they feel uncomfortable, and they can be. People struggling with depression or anxiety often feel it will never get better. It can be hard to enter into a conversation. But simply talking about it in an open way helps reduces the isolation and loneliness.
  3. Create a secure holding space. As a family member or friend, we can hold a space of comfort and hope for that person who is suffering. If they’re going through a dark time, a helpful phrase is “I’ll hold the hope for you.”
  4. Don’t go into solution mode. I recently spoke to a friend who struggles with depression and she said, “I don’t want options right now, I just want you to hear me”. You don’t need to have the right words, either. Sometimes it’s best just to acknowledge, “I don’t know what to say, but I’m sorry for what you’re going through” rather than say things like “don’t worry, it’ll get better.”
  5. Read up on the subject. There are resources in the community to inform you about what mental illness is and how to care for those who are affected by it. But keep some of it to yourself. Don’t bombard people with facts and advice.

Often people turn to JFS because they’re afraid to talk to others in their lives or because they don’t have someone who will care for them. If you know someone struggling with mental illness, we encourage you to reach out to them. If you personally struggle with mental illness, please be in touch with us or another health professional. There is help available.

You can access our services by visiting our webpage or contacting Alan Stamp, Clinical Director, at 604-637-3309 or If finances are a concern, our counselling services are available on a sliding fee-scale.

Stay tuned for our upcoming Family Life Education event on February 13, 2019, featuring Michael Landsberg on the topic “Darkness and Hope: Depression, Sport and Me”

By |2018-10-18T11:22:51+00:00October 9th, 2018|News, Stories|0 Comments