Life with someone living with a mental health problem has its ups and downs, setbacks and successes, just like any relationship. But coping with a mental health problem comes with its own unique challenges. When a loved one goes through a hard time, such as a divorce or job loss, it’s normal to step in and take on a supportive role..
This urge to help is natural, healthy, and usually mutual. But when a mental health disorder is part of the equation, your role may turn into a long-term commitment.
Friends and family of people with mental health problems start out with good intentions, but over time they often start taking on additional roles in the relationship. While they may be the person’s parent, spouse, child or uncle, they might also find themselves serving as a nurse, psychologist, caregiver or doctor.
They may also find themselves in conflicting roles (it’s impossible to be both a father and a psychologist). This can lead to a sense of powerlessness when they fail in their attempts to help. Over time, they can experience burnout, neglect their own well-being and even develop their own mental health problems.
Generally speaking, being in a healthy relationship means feeling respected, safe and accepted by the other person. Friends and family members of a person living with a mental health disorder should never set aside their own needs. As partners in recovery, they should avoid putting themselves at risk in a bid to “save” their loved one. By taking care of themselves, they will be better equipped to offer support within the limits of their role. It’s therefore important that people with mental health problems work with professionals who can give them the help they need.
Friends and family of someone living with a mental health disorder often have trouble establishing and maintaining clear relationship boundaries, because they find it difficult to find a balancebetween respecting their own needs and those of their loved one.
AQPAMM can help you understand your loved one’s mental health issues, adapt to these challenges and take better care of yourself.