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Supporting a Person with Mental Illness

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When someone you care about is struggling with mental illness, we might not know what to say or how to help. It can leave you feeling lost. While you want to help however you can, you don't want to cross personal boundaries or offend anyone. All the confusion makes supporting a tricky task but by educating yourself and practicing empathetic listening, you can better approach your loved one to hear about their struggles and offer your support.

The Do's and Don'ts of Supporting a Loved One


  • Ask them if they're comfortable with talking about their struggles.
  • Ask straightforward questions.
  • Listen with empathy and respect.
  • Ask how they would like to be supported.
  • Offer to help them find treatment.
  • Express your genuine concern and caring.
  • Educate yourself about their illness.
  • Set boundaries for yourself.


  • Accuse them of attention seeking.
  • Pry for information or demand answers to questions they aren't comfortable with answering.
  • Take charge of their recovery or force them to seek treatment.
  • Joke about or invalidate their illness.
  • Give unwarrented advice.
  • Scold or punish your loved one for using unhealthy behaviors or struggling.
  • Disclose their condition to others without their consent.



The information on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. We do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, mental health providers, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

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