How Parents and Spouses Can Help With Mental Illness


When it comes to mental health supportive parents are extremely important. At the same time they can be the hardest ones to approach about the mental illness. When dealing with a mental health issue you don’t want to burden those around you, especially those closest to you.

Having supportive parents involved with your treatment plan can be extremely helpful and important. They can help in ways such as:

  • Being nonjudgmental about what the person is going through.
  • Helping to make sure you are getting the proper treatments.
  • Helping to make sure you get to appointments on time.
  • In some cases becoming advocates to help in making treatment plans.
  • Doing research on treatment plans when the child just doesn’t have the energy to take initiative.
  • Being there for you to talk about what you are going through. Sometimes just getting what’s going on out and saying it aloud to someone can make a big difference.

That being said, it can also be hard for parents in helping their child deal with a mental illness that they haven’t gone through themselves.


Living with someone who has a mental illness can cause a lot of strain on the relationship. The other person is with them every day and sometimes dealing with the effects of the illness on a daily basis. Like parents spouses can be left feeling helpless in helping their partner through what they are going through.

Spouses can help by reading up on their significant others illness to get an understanding of what they are likely going though and experiencing. This can help during a spouse’s episode and how the partner responds.

There are also work books for many different illnesses that offer coping mechanisms that if a spouse goes through with their partner will assist in helping them through the episode. This will help take away some of the feelings of being helpless by reminding them of the coping mechanism and how to use it.

A really good coping mechanism that can be applied to many different mental illnesses is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). An excellent work book to go through is called Mind over Mood by Dennis Greenberger, Christine A. Padesky and Aaron T. Beck.

Mind over Mood helps you change the way to feel by the way you think and has information about CBT as well as a workbook to put the practices they talk about into use. Learning coping mechanisms together like this book will help the spouse be a bit more active in their partners condition an coping skills.

Helpful Coping Skills

There are many different coping skills available, it’s just a matter of finding the ones that work best for your partner and it takes effort not only in learning how to use them but in putting them into action.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as mentioned above, helps with changing how you feel by changing the way you think. Purchasing a CBT book or researching CBT practices and information online can be a great coping skill.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) will help to give the person the skills to manage painful emotions. It provides skills in four areas:
    • Mindfulness, which brings the person into the present instead of focusing on the past or the future and can help to calm the mind and body.
    • Distress Tolerance, This focuses on the person’s ability to tolerate negative emotions rather than trying to run away from them.
    • Emotion Regulation, this gives skills and strategies to change and manage intense emotions that may be causing problems.
    • Interpersonal Effectiveness, This helps in allowing the person to communicate with other people in ways that are assertive and also maintaining self-respect. This can also help to strengthen a relationship.
  • Mindfulness, although it is included in DBT mindfulness by itself or meditation can be a big help in calming a person down, slow down thinking, and help to relieve some of the symptoms being experienced when practiced regularly. There are apps and YouTube videos for mindfulness and meditation.
  • Yoga, this may seem like an odd one but yoga can be very beneficial in coping with a mental illness when practiced regularly. Yoga has many different poses for many different issues. A great resource is finding yoga poses specific to the mental illness on Pinterest. Just type in the mental illness and yoga poses.
  • Regular Dr. Visits, seeing a Dr. for your mental illness can be crucial and sometimes medication is needed in order to bring a person to a level of functioning that they can then work with coping mechanisms and bring back some sort of norm to their life. Take charge of your medical care though, if something isn’t working tell the Dr. and try a different medication. Don’t be afraid to let them know what’s going on, how you’re feeling, and whether a medication is or isn’t working.

There are many other different types of coping mechanism, such as hobbies and journaling among many others. Google can offer a wealth of information on different ways to cope with specific mental illnesses simply by doing a search.

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Richard Bailey

I have suffered from severe chronic depression for just over two decades. I have gone through many treatments and all medications that the Dr.'s I work with have available to them but have been treatment resistant. I hope to help people and inform people on mental health and wellness through this blog.

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