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Mental illness can affect the whole family. If somebody in your family has a mental health condition, it can be a challenging time for everyone who is close to them.

Caring for a family member with a mental health condition can also lead to your own health and wellbeing being affected, especially if you don’t have access to the right help and support. If you are experiencing stress and worry, you may be dealing with the following symptoms yourself:

Physical symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia

Cognitive and emotional symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Confusion

Behavioural symptoms

  • Changes in attitude
  • Social withdrawal

Many families can also experience financial difficulties if they are unable to work as much as they used to as a result of their caring responsibilities. Supporting someone with a mental health condition may also be impacting on your friendships and social lives, as you have less time to do the things that you once enjoyed.

Take good care of yourself

It is important that you look after yourself when supporting someone with a mental health condition, and give yourself the time and space that you need to take care of your own health and wellbeing. As well as this being important for you, if your batteries are constantly running on empty, how can you be expected to support someone else effectively?

  • Take time out for yourself, as not to overload yourself and burn out
  • Share the support role with others
  • Practice mindfulness techniques
  • Find someone to talk to about how you feel

Dealing with mental health conditions in your family

When supporting someone in the family who has a mental health condition, make sure that you and the other people who are closest to them are helping out in the following ways:

Ask if there is any way you can help - they may need support attending a doctor’s appointment or starting a new hobby such as a dance or exercise class if they don’t want to do it on their own.

Spend time with them - just spending time with the person will show that you care. You may not know what to say but just being there as a supportive, listening ear will be helpful.

Be open-minded – while you may not fully understand the mental health condition yourself, try to be open-minded and listen to their concerns. Don’t use phrases like ‘cheer up’ or ‘pull yourself together’, as these are not helpful and can actually have a negative effect on the person.

Show that they can trust you - being respectful towards the person can help to build trust and boost their self-esteem. This will help them as mental health conditions often damage a person’s self-esteem and confidence.

Don’t keep talking about mental health - when you spend time together, find other things to talk about other than the mental health condition.

Support available at Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai

If you feel that you or the person you are caring for may need professional help, receiving the right support from a professional psychologist is an important step to take.

To find out more about mental health support offered at Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai, call +971 4 245 3800 to speak to one of our administrative team today in confidence, or submit an online enquiry form.

Tanya Dharamshi, Counsellor

This page was clinically reviewed by Tanya Dharamshi (BSW, MSc Psych, Counsellor, DHCC, UAE). Tanya brings 18+ years of counselling experience in trauma, crisis intervention, child abuse, substance addiction, attachment disorder, depression, anxiety, stress, bereavement, couples therapy, mood disorders, chronic illness and adjustment disorder. View Tanya's full profile here.