How to Cope When a Loved One Has a Serious Mental Illness

supportive family

Mental illnesses are disorders that affect the way a person thinks, feels and acts. Like other diseases, mental illness can range from mild to severe. A serious mental illness, or SMI, is defined as having one or more mental, behavioral or emotional disorders that interfere with daily functioning. If your loved one was diagnosed with an SMI, you probably have questions and concerns over how to best support them. 

CTRLCare Behavioral Health treats a wide range of mental health problems, including serious mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and panic disorder. We have both an Adult Program and a Youth Program, as we recognize that kids and adults benefit from different treatment approaches. We also have a Family Program that allows families to work together to resolve issues and rebuild bonds. 

Below are some of our best tips for coping when your loved one is diagnosed with an SMI and requires mental health therapy in Princeton NJ

Educate Yourself on the Condition 

The first thing to do is educate yourself on the disorder, whether it be schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder or something else. Even if you think you know about the condition, there are probably many more things to learn. Understanding the disorder, its symptoms and its triggers can help you be more compassionate to your loved one. It can also help you develop more reasonable expectations for the healing process. 

Encourage Behavioral Therapy in Princeton NJ 

Serious mental illness needs treatment – it does not go away or get better on its own. In fact, SMIs get worse over time and can cause your loved one to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms like abusing substances, not eating or not sleeping. Encourage your loved one to seek professional support. Behavioral therapy is an effective way to treat SMI and other underlying conditions. 

Seek Help for Yourself 

If you’re having trouble coping, or are unsure of how to support your loved one, find a support group, counselor or therapist in your area. It’s important to talk through your feelings and build connections with others who are facing similar challenges. This will make you feel less alone, more hopeful and more productive. You can even participate in a family therapy program with your loved one. 

Create a Structured Home 

People with mental illness benefit from having structure and support. Think about how you can make your home life easier for your loved one. Ultimately, this will benefit everyone in the home. To do this, you may have to redefine your boundaries and the consequences, which a therapist can help you with. 

Volunteer Your Time

While it might seem contradictory to put more on your plate, volunteering your time and talents is actually a great way to relieve stress. When you work with people who have less than you, it’s a humbling experience that changes your perception. For example, SMI may be difficult to live with, but it is treatable with the appropriate anxiety treatment in Princeton NJ. Maybe volunteering is something you and your loved one can do together one day! 

CTRLCare Behavioral Health offers a wide range of therapy for mental illness, trauma, eating disorders, gambling disorders and more. Contact our admissions department to learn more about our services and how they can benefit you and your family.