Mental Health America, one in five adults have struggled with a mental health condition this
past year. That’s over 40 million Americans; more than the populations
of New York and Florida combined.
One area of mental health that often gets overlooked is the impact those
struggles have on close friends, family, children, or other loved ones.
It is certainly true that undiagnosed mental health conditions have been
primary players in divorces and addictions as well. But what can a family
member or loved one do to help someone struggling with a mental health
Here's what you can do to help:
Talk to the person about what you’ve noticed and why you’re concerned.
Explain that depression (for example) is a medical condition, not a personal flaw or weakness — and that it usually gets better
with treatment, much like taking medication may help with high blood pressure,
Suggest seeking help from a professional—a mental health provider such as a licensed counselor or psychologist.
Express your willingness to help by setting up appointments, going with them to the appointment and/or
attending family therapy sessions.
It is not uncommon for loved ones that help to start experiencing some
of the same symptoms that their loved one is. Those symptoms look like
increased irritability, sadness, fatigue, over/under eating, over/under
sleeping. If someone has significant trauma in their past, being involved
in someone else’s significant trauma process may trigger their own symptoms.
To combat these symptoms, which are quite normal, establish boundaries
for yourself when trying to help a loved one. For instance, never do more
work than the person you are trying to help is doing. As long as the loved
one is making an effort, make that same effort. Another boundary setting
technique is helping a loved one develop a safety plan that includes other
supportive participants. Have a community of support will ease the burden
of being the “sole” care taker.
If you have any questions about how to do this, feel to contact me at 307-688-5003 or
Brian J. Edwards, LMFT, CATC, clinical supervisor at Campbell County Health
Behavioral Health Services at
Campbell County Memorial Hospital in Gillette, Wyoming. BHS provides the Northeastern Wyoming community
with compassionate, confidential and comprehensive treatment of behavioral
disorders, mental illness and substance abuse treatment following detox.
Appointments are available Monday–Friday from 8 am–5 pm. Call
307.688.5000. Learn more at