Do's and Don'ts lists for caregivers and friends...
- Blame yourself.
- Give limitless, unconditional self-sacrifice.
- Pretend the problems associated with mental illness will just go away.
- Spend massive amounts of time with the person who has a mental illness. This may make matters worse. They need time and space for healing and recovery.
- Give up.
- Be patient and encouraging with someone who is mentally ill.
- Educate yourself about the illness. Learn as much as possible.
- Develop your own network of support.
- Seek professional service providers who are effective. You can identify them by their compassionate natures, informative style and eagerness to have you as their ally.
- Ensure that you receive comprehensive education and understanding in how to cope with someone who has a mental illness.
- Pay great attention to the needs of other members of the family or group of friends.
- Realize that mental illness is not rare.
- Contact a self-help group that encourages the involvement of family members.
- Accept the fact that mental illness is complex and that the prompting of our natural instincts are often unreliable guides to coping and caring.
- Get to know the origins of the pressures, which we, the relatives and friends are subject to and do not transmit these or our anxieties about them to our mentally ill family member/friend.
- Set your sights on appropriate independence for your relative and yourself.
- Maintain and establish friendships, activities and hobbies, particularly those that take you outside the home.
- Don’t be surprised to discover that in the end, it is the ability to change, to look at things differently that distinguishes relatives and friends who will cope from those who can’t.
- Take very good care of yourself. Look after your own mental health.