The Help of Family

In a CAMH article entitled “Families are Vital to Patient Recovery,” written by a mother of a 21 year old suffering with mental illness, these passages were particularly striking to me: “I think the majority of families do understand and appreciate the similarities between mental illnesses like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and physical illnesses. They absolutely are diseases just like diabetes, cancer and heart disease – but they can be far more difficult illnesses for families to cope with because they have had to deal with their loved one’s behavioural changes, personality changes and possibly bizarre, frightening and risky behaviours.”

She goes on to add, “Mental health practitioners know, and research proves, that a supportive family increases the chances for recovery. But families are suffering immensely and the demands on them are unlike most other diseases. Families need to be supported, educated and listened to. Letting them know they are a valued part of the team can be empowering for families at a time when they feel completely helpless.”

For any family members who are feeling the often isolating effects of supporting a loved one with mental illness, contact CAMH’s Office of Family Engagement for information about valuable resources at (416) 535-8501 ext 33202, email:, or website: 

To contact Canadian Mental Health Association in Ottawa (CMHA): (613) 737-7791 –

To read the full article:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Mike Scheid on Unsplash

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