Families are an important pillar of
support and we care deeply for them. As someone close to them, we might notice
when they are unwell or seem different from their usual selves. They might also
look towards us for advice and support when going through difficult times.
Read on to find out how we can support them with their mental health and well-being.
Tips on supporting our family member
When communicating with them, it is useful to take note of the following:
Starting a conversation
Be patient and supportive
When they do share, take time to listen to their feelings, thoughts and needs before offering solutions. Validating their feelings can help them feel heard while encouraging them to share their problems with us in future.
Be mindful of our tone and volume
Prioritise their well-being
Alternatively, we can reach out to other family members or get professional help to ensure that they are getting the support they need.
Different mental health challenges
Like all of us, our family members might experience life changes that can affect their mental health and well-being. As a family member, we can learn about the mental health challenges they might face so that we can better support them.
New experiences and life transitions might
bring about stress and it is important for us to help our
family members manage stress before it overwhelms them.
Click here to learn some tips that we can share with them about stress management.
When things get overwhelming, our family
members might experience intense emotions. We can help them
learn to be more aware of their emotions and manage them better.
Click here to pick up some tips that you can share with them on managing emotions.
It is normal to feel sad occasionally, but if
we notice our family members feeling down over an extended
period, they could be suffering from depression. To better
support them, we can learn more about what they are going
through and how to seek help.
Here are some tips on caring for family members with depression:
Be patient and understanding
drain a person’s energy and drive.
At times, our family members might
appear irritable, impatient, or say
hurtful things but try to not take it to
heart as these may be due to their
condition and not necessarily directed
Here are other things to take note of when our family members are not acting in their usual ways:
- Empathise with them
- Know that they are trying their best
- Do not judge or criticise them
- Avoid telling them to be positive or “snap out of it”
- Refrain from blaming them or pressuring them to get well soon
Look out for warning signs of suicide
People with depression may have an increased risk of suicide . Be prepared by knowing the concerning behaviours to look out for. If our family members display any signs of suicide, take it seriously and consider seeking professional support.
OCD is one of the top three most common
mental health conditions. If our family members have OCD,
they might constantly have intrusive thoughts and
ritualistic behaviours that cause them distress and anxiety.
To better support them, we can learn more
about what they are going through and how to
Here are some tips on caring for family members with OCD:
Manage our expectations and recognise small improvements
Give our family
members the time that they need to
improve. Their progress may sometimes
seem insignificant to us (e.g. a
decrease rather than complete stop in
excessively long showers), but it might
have taken a lot for them
We can encourage them to keep trying by consistently acknowledging their small accomplishments and praising them.
Avoid judging or making negative remarks
Try to remain open and refrain from making negative remarks about their behaviours. Show our support by lending a listening ear and encouraging them to share about their struggles.
Be mindful not to accommodate their obsessive thoughts and compulsions
Try not to offer
assurance about their intrusive thoughts
or help them perform certain rituals as
this will not be in their best interests
in the long term.
It is important to continue maintaining usual family routines while not reinforcing OCD behaviours. We can also consider bringing our family members to seek professional help if it interferes with their daily lives.
It is normal to feel anxious at times, but it
can be concerning if our family members often feel uneasy
and have trouble controlling their worries. If it comes to a
point where their daily life is affected, it might be a sign
of anxiety disorder. To better support them, we can learn more about what they are going
through and how to seek help.
Here are some tips on caring for family members with anxiety disorder:
Understand that supporting avoidance or forcing confrontation are not solutions
Avoidance is not
helpful for their anxiety in the long
run. Try not to help our family members
avoid situations that they are fearful
of (e.g. by taking over their task so
they can avoid doing
However, remember to practise discretion when doing this. If they start to show extreme fear, refrain from forcing them to confront the fear as it could cause them additional distress and affect their trust in us.
Encourage them to focus on things that they can control
Help our family members learn to identify what they can and cannot control. Being able to divert their attention and energy towards what can be controlled will help them to improve their situation.
Refrain from asking them to stop worrying
Lend them a listening ear and validate their feelings instead of asking them to stop worrying. Let them know that it is okay not to be okay at times. We can also guide them to refocus their attention on other activities, like taking a walk, listening to music or going to a quiet corner where they can calm down.
Amid the hustle and bustle of daily lives, we
may encounter a fair share of challenges and issues. Be it
financial worries, juggling family commitments or pressure
at work, these challenges can bring about strong feelings of
stress, self-doubt, uncertainty and fear. When these get too
overwhelming, some might hurt or contemplate hurting
themselves to seek relief.
Click here to learn more about self-harm and suicide as well as how to help our loved ones cope with it.
There may be times when our family member
experiences losing someone or something precious to them
such as a loved one, relationship, their health, or even
their job. As they express their grief from this loss, they
may experience difficult and overwhelming emotions such as
sadness or even despair.
To better support our family member, we can learn more about the effects of grief and how we can support them through it. Click here to find out more about coping with grief.
As our family member progresses through their
life, they will inevitably face changes, be it getting
married or becoming a caregiver for their parents. These
might become a source of stress, worry or frustration and
may affect their mental and physical
Click here to learn useful tips on coping that we can share with them, as we help them through transitions that may occur in their lives.
Caring for our family member while juggling other aspects of
our lives can take a toll on our physical and mental well-being.
Ultimately, the lack of self-care will make it more difficult for us to
care for them, so we should not feel guilty about attending to our needs.
Practising and prioritising self-care will allow us to recharge and be ready to provide them with the support they need. Refer to these tips on managing stress and emotions to keep ourselves healthy.