Family Support in Mental Health Treatment

Family members hold hands as one goes through mental health treatment at The Mental Health Center at Destination Hope in Fort Lauderdale

When someone is suffering from a severe mental illness or chronic mental disorder, there is treatment, medication, and even community resources that can help. However, family support is a cornerstone for those who suffer from mental illness during their treatment and recovery process.

Family can be an integral support system for patients who suffer from various types of mental illnesses, ranging from anxiety and depression to eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. By engaging with therapists during the treatment process, families can learn how to spot signs and symptoms of worsening mental disorders and how to support the patient as they work to manage their condition.

What Types of Support Can Families Provide?

When a loved one is suffering from a mental disorder, family members can help in any number of ways. First, love, empathy and encouragement can work wonders for mental health sufferers. Understanding that they are not alone can provide people with the strength they need to seek help.

Support can take many different shapes – some sufferers may need child care assistance during their outpatient treatment sessions or transportation to their treatment center. Others may rely on family support for housing or financial assistance. Whatever form support takes, it’s important for families to respect their loved one and respect their condition, even when it seems bewildering.

Education for Families

One of the best things families can do when their loved one begins treatment is to get educated about their loved one’s mental illness. Without understanding the nature of the illness, it will be difficult to effectively support them in ways that can genuinely help them. Without understanding an illness like clinical anxiety, for instance, a family member might be tempted to say things like “just snap out of it” or “toughen up.” Saying things like this diminish the profound illness that the person suffers from. Anxiety, after all, is not a choice – no mental illness is; so your loved one will find it virtually impossible to snap out of it or get better without proper medical treatment.

Often, therapists are amenable to working with families to educate them about their loved one’s illness and to offer suggestions about how they can help. By learning about your loved one’s illness, you can help them avoid triggers and encourage them throughout the treatment process. Modern medicine and great therapists can work wonders for patients with mental health conditions today, but the love and support from loved ones can be immensely compelling and can help patients arrive at an improved state much more quickly than with medication alone. The key to mental illness is management. When the condition can be managed effectively, they can enjoy positive lives and a greater overall sense of well-being – something entire families will benefit from.

Mental Health Treatment

If you believe that your loved one is suffering from a mental illness, or if you think their illness is no longer being managed effectively, it’s important to seek out treatment and encourage your loved one to get the help they need.

Mental illness is more treatable than ever, and you can be part of your loved one’s treatment plan when you search for facilities that offer family therapy or include family as part of the treatment process. Mental Health Center at Destination Hope works collectively with the client, as well as their family, to ensure a smooth treatment process, with maximized support and well-being.


  1. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/family-friends
  2. http://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members/
  3. http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-ways-to-support-a-loved-one-with-serious-mental-illness/