Friends and family members may find it very difficult when someone close to them is suffering from a mental disorder. It may feel hard to accept the fact that finding the right treatment may take time and considerable activeness both from the patient and their families and friends. The mere fact that someone close to you is feeling bad requires strength. It is therefore important to remember to take care of yourself, too. If you get tired, you will not be able to support the other person.
The families of mental health patients have support and various kinds of peer groups available to them. These groups were born out of the need to share experiences. It becomes easier to cope if you have enough information on the illness and the chance to talk about the issue with family members, friends or other families suffering from mental disorders.
Finland has hundreds of thousands of people whose relatives or friends suffer from depression
Depression is the most common mental disorder in Finland. The friends and families of people suffering from depression often have to find a balance between encouraging the patient to have different activities and to maintain links to the outside world, but also to support the person to rest and take his/her own space.
People suffering from depression often isolate themselves from the world, and someone’s urging to go out may feel very heavy. Persons suffering from depression do not necessarily have the energy to be among strangers, therefore their friends and family members may become even more important to them: the patient can honestly tell them that they do not have the strength. The support of loved ones in the form of listening and understanding is extremely important for the depressed person.
The family members of people suffering from depression are at a higher risk of becoming depressed themselves. Therefore it is important for them to know the limitations of their own coping and be able to keep their distance at times. If the mental and physical endurance of a family member or friend is being put to test, it is important to rest and, if necessary, also seek help for himself/herself.
Different kinds of peer support groups for families provide support and allow them to hear good advice from people in the same situation on how to cope in everyday life and what forms of support are available for mental health patients.