Family members and friends providing support and other types of assistance to someone with a mental illness are also in need of information and support. Families are often in the position of providing assistance with daily living, emotional support, crisis support, finding services and information, financial assistance, and the list goes on.
Family and Caregiver Support
Having a family member with a mental illness can be very stressful. Whether the ill person is a son, daughter, husband, wife, brother or sister, you will be affected by their illness too. A person with a psychiatric disorder often needs much love, help and support. At the same time, the problems, fears and behaviour of your ill relative may strain your patience and your ability to cope.
There are many different kinds of mental illness, and each has its own symptoms. During periods when your relative is ill, he/she may be demanding and disruptive, or extremely withdrawn and inactive. In fact, an ill person’s behaviour may keep on changing because the symptoms may fluctuate.
Whether you suspect, or know for certain, that a member of your family has a psychiatric disorder, you will probably find that it helps to learn about the disorder.
CMHA Brant’s Family Support program provides the following for family members:
- NAMI Family to Family Education Program– A free 12-week course for family and friends of persons living with a serious mental illness. The program is taught by trained facilitators who are also family members.The course content includes, information about illnesses of the brain and their treatment, coping skills and, the power of advocacy. For more information, call 519-752-2998, ext. 112. Program is offered only when there are sufficient numbers to run the sessions. If you are interested, your name will be placed on a list and you will be notified of the next session as it becomes available.
- Families Caring Families Sharing – This group provides support and caregiving strategies to families living with mental illness. The group is offered the second Tuesday of each month, from 7-8:30 p.m., with the exception of January, July & August. For more information, call 519-752-2998, ext. 112.
- Suicide Bereavement Support Group – This group is offered the 3rd Wednesday of each month, with the exception of the month of August from 7-8:30 p.m. at the new Hankinson House Hospice (2nd floor meeting room) on Grey Street (behind St. Joseph’s Lifecare), Brantford. This group is an opportunity for survivors to connect with other survivors and talk openly about suicide, with people who really understand what you are going through. The group is facilitated by persons who have lost loved ones to suicide. For more information, call 519-752-2998, ext. 112.
In addition, the Family Support program can assist families with:
- Assistance locating services and support
- Information about coping with mental health concerns in the family
- Quick access to information, i.e. services, treatment options, about the illness
- Providing family information evenings in the community
Family Support Resources
When you first realize that someone you are close to may have a mental illness, it can be a chaotic and frightening time. You fear where this may lead. Suddenly you are called upon to provide special support for which you feel completely unprepared. What can you do? Who can you talk to? If you’re in this situation, these resources can provide helpful information for you and your family.