Consumer Information

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Supporting a Friend or Family Member with a Mental Disorder

Helping a Friend or Family Member with Depression or Bipolar Disorders
Prepared by the US-based non-profit organization Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, this brochure provides information about depression and bipolar disorders. It helps family members and care-givers educate themselves about the symptoms and treatments of the disorders.  It provides guidelines on how best to help friends and family members living with these conditions and how best care-givers can take care of themselves in the process of helping loved ones (English only).

Supporting a Friend or Family Member with a Mental Illness
Resources developed by Here to Help for friends and family members of people living with mental illness. The site provides useful guidelines as well as links to other available resources.

Here to Help is a project of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information, a group of seven leading provincial mental health and addictions non-profit agencies. Related fact sheets, available in multiple languages, can be found here.

When a Family Member Is Unwilling to Seek Help
People experiencing mental health or addiction problems are not always willing to seek treatment. They may not believe there is a problem. Or they may feel that they can address the issue on their own, without treatment. The person may also have fears about the mental health system, or concerns about the stigma of a mental health or addiction diagnosis. This is a difficult situation for families. This English resource, produced by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), provides information for family members of those struggling with mental illness, but are unwilling to seek help.

Caregiver Mobilization Toolkit
The Toolkit is intended to support caregivers and organizations in order to help them understand and implement the recommendations outlined in the National Guidelines for a Comprehensive Service System to Support Family Caregivers of Adults with Mental Health Problems and Illnesses released in June 2013 by the MHCC.

“The Guidelines provide an evidence-informed, comprehensive approach to better meeting the needs of family caregivers,“ said Ed Mantler, MHCC Vice President of Programs and Priorities, “the mobilization toolkit is for those who want to put the Guidelines into practice.”

“The Toolkit offers practical guidance to anyone interested in translating the Guidelines into concrete help for families,” said Ella Amir, Executive Director of AMI-Québec who added, “it is the best step to ensure that the Guidelines are not remembered as an impressive academic document but rather as a tool that changed the lives of caregivers across the country.” A grassroots organization, AMI-Québec is committed to helping families manage the effects of mental illness through support, education, guidance and advocacy. By promoting understanding, the organization aims to dispel the stigma still surrounding mental illness, thereby helping to create communities that offer new hope for meaningful lives.

Quick Facts:

  • The term family Caregiver refers to all those in the circle of care, including family members and other significant people who provide unpaid support to an individual living with a mental health problem or illness.
  • Approximately 560,000 Canadians provide care to a person living with a mental health problem or illness.
  • Caregivers experience more health and mental health problems compared to the general population, as well as an increased financial burden.

Additional information on the Caregiver Guidelines and Mobilization Toolkit may be found online here.