Supporting a Family Member

When a family member suffers from a mental illness, one of the most important things to do is to take the time to learn about the disorder. By educating yourself as much as you can about the mental or substance use disorder, you can take an active role in your family member’s recovery.

Related materials:





Family Toolkit | workbook

Learning how to cope with any ongoing illness is no easy task. Learning how to manage a mental illness and make the most out of life can be challenging. However, with information and the support of their family and friends, most people (children, youth and adults) can take an active role in managing the symptoms of their disorder and in living a fulfilling and productive life...[more]

Family Self-Care and Recovery from Mental Illness | manual

This resource is intended for families of people dealing with a mental illness. The focus is on helping families to be informed caregivers, particularly around the necessity to care for themselves and other family members, whose needs are as important as those of the ill relative...[more]

Family Events Calendar | web page

Stay up to date on events happening across BC that are of interest to people caring for a loved one with a mental illness. The events --which include support groups, meetings, workshops and courses-- are ones that are hosted by individual member organizations of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information. The calendar is maintained by BC Partners member, the BC Schizophrenia Society...[go to calendar]

Online Family Support Groups | web site

The BC Schizophrenia Society and the Mind Foundation, on behalf of the BC Partners, have launched of a series of 3 online support groups. These support groups are for parents, siblings, spouses, adult children or other family/friends caring for a loved one who has a mental illness or who may appear to have a mental health problem. The 3 groups are a general family group, a group for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) carers, and one for families in rural areas. The moderated groups are free, private, anonymous and available 24/7...[go to online groups]

What Family and Friends can do to Help | fact sheet

In the days when people with mental disorders were sent straight to psychiatric hospitals, contact with family was often limited to a brief visit here and there. But with the shift towards a more balanced health care system, mental health care professionals are recognizing that support from friends and families is one of the best ways to help someone who is ill. Families can be members of the treatment team...[more]

Engaging Families in Child & Youth Mental Health: A Review of Best, Emerging and Promising Practices | report | bibliography

This report explores existing literature on the topic of family engagement in child and youth mental health. It looks at examples of policies and practices, as well as strategies that enhance and promote family engagement...[more]

Symptoms of Psychosis and What to Do About Them: A Guide for Family and Friends | fact sheet


Psychosis can be a very confusing and debilitating condition. Before you can better support them, it’s important to learn more about what psychosis is and looks like, so you know how to respond in a way that is helpful for you and your loved one...[more]

How to Help People Recovering from Psychosis: What Family and Friends Need to Know | fact sheet

With the support of family and friends, an individual can feel safe and encouraged. Here is a guide on the best ways to offer them support and assistance... [more]

Psychosis: For kids who might know people with psychosis | booklet

Understanding psychosis can be difficult for children, and especially scary if a loved one is living with this condition. This kid-friendly booklet guides young readers through causes and treatments in a clear and friendly way...[more]

Bipolar Disorder: Effects on the family | fact sheet

Living with a person who has bipolar disorder involves learning how to deal with the disruptions that symptoms can create, supporting the person through their recovery, and finding ways to cope with the effects on the family...[more]

For Kids: When Your Brother or Sister is Sick with Psychosis | fact sheet

When a sibling starts to act differently but displays no physical symptoms, understanding their sickness can be confusing. This guide explains the basics of psychosis to kids in order to help them support their brother or sister...[more]

For Teens: When Your Brother or Sister has Psychosis | fact sheet

This guide, specifically made for teen readers, goes over the basics of psychosis as experienced by a sibling, discussing everything from causes to methods of support...[more]

Family Peer Support Buddy Program | read more

The Family Peer Support Buddy program was developed in 2005 and piloted in three locations in BC in early 2006. The program matches volunteers with persons who are family members of persons with a serious and persistent mental illness. The volunteers, who are also family members of a person with a mental illness, provide peer listening and some information during a weekly phone call or visit...[more]

Visions Journal: Parenting | PDF

Parenting can be one of the most rewarding roles any of us have in life - and this is no different for people with mental disorders. This volume focuses mostly on parents with mental illness from a number of different points of view - the parents themselves, their children, child protection workers, and service providers in the mental health and addictions fields from the adult and child/youth services. The overall theme is one of supporting the whole family, nurturing strengths, and planning ahead for crises...[table of contents]

Parents of Young People | web page

Where do I start if I think my child is having difficulties? Where should parents look when searching for a mental health professional? What can I do while I'm waiting to see a specialist? When seeking mental health help for your child, it isn't always easy to find out what's available and where to go. Here are resources specially designed for parents of young people...[more]

How to Help Children in a Classroom | PDF

Teaching can be difficult especially when someone in the classroom is constantly distracted and is interrupting the class. This is an orietation guide for teachers that will show them how to help a child or a student in the classroom who has a mental illness. It will also show teachers how to appraoch parents in such situations...[more]