Mental Disorder


Mental Disorder

Do’s & Don’ts in helping your loved one with a mental disorder.



1. Be respectful and calm.

2. Stick to one topic at a time.

3. Keep a positive attitude.

4. Be honest with yourself and with your family member.

5. Use humor (when appropriate).

6. Communicate openly and often with the doctors.

Building family member’s self-esteem:

1. Work together to create short-term goals.

2. Stay active – plan and engage in activities together.

3. Genuinely praise and compliment your loved one frequently, even for day- to- day behaviors.

Dealing with difficult behavior:

1. Accept the fact that the consumer has a legitimate illness.

2. Set and discuss clear limits, rules and expectations for the family member’s behavior.

3. Be consistent and predictable.

4. Keep a log of your loved one’s symptoms, response to various medications, hospitalizations, etc.  This information can be very valuable to his/her doctors

5. Pay attention to warning signs of possible relapse, worsening of symptoms, etc.

6. Give your family member space when he/she asks for it (as long as he/she is not dangerous to him/herself or others).

Taking care of yourself:

1. Stay in contact with your support system.

2. Educate yourself about mental illness.

3. Talk to other people struggling with similar situations (such as at the SAFE Program, meetings of NAMI, etc.).

4. Remember that you are not alone.

5. Take 1 minute at a time.



1. Don’t tease your family member about his/her symptoms.

2. Don’t yell or shout at your family member.

3. Don’t argue with your family member about his/her symptoms (e.g., don’t try to talk him/her out of delusions or hallucinations).

4. Don’t get stuck in talking about the past – stay in the present.

Dealing with difficult behavior:

1. Don’t take the symptoms or illness personally.

2. Don’t tolerate abuse of any kind from your family member.

3. Don’t blame all your family member’s undesirable behaviors on the mental illness.

4. Don’t always interpret his/her emotional distance as reflecting something about your relationship.

Dealing with the fact that your family member has a mental illness:

1. Don’t let the illness run your life.

2. Don’t try to be your family member’s therapist.

Enhancing your family member’s self-esteem:

1. Don’t make all the decisions for your loved one – allow him/her to make as many decisions as possible.

2. Don’t tell your family member to just “get over it” or to “get a life.”

3. Don’t call your family member names (e.g., psycho, crybaby, etc.).

Quoted from source:
Reference: SafeProgram, Department of Veteran Affairs, Support & Family Education

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