Supporting family and friends

Share tips on supporting a partner, family member or friend with a mental health condition, and seeking support for your own wellbeing.

FAQ

Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Pinned discussions

Carmela Are you supporting a depressed partner? My tips from 18 years of experience
  • replies: 41

This list has been compiled from experiences supporting my husband with depression. There is no one size fits all, so please take what you are comfortable with based on your circumstances and resources. 1. Reach out to family and/or friends to feel s... View more

This list has been compiled from experiences supporting my husband with depression. There is no one size fits all, so please take what you are comfortable with based on your circumstances and resources. 1. Reach out to family and/or friends to feel supported - this also covers support groups - online or face to face. Don't let stigma stop you from reaching out. 2. Relationship boundaries - identify what is acceptable and not. My general platform is that physical abuse is unacceptable as well as regular demeaning/berating comments. Communicate this openly so everyone understands. 3. Coping tools - this could be exercise, meditation, reading a book, meeting friends, etc. They are important for your mental health. 4. Knowledge is power - research to understand about depression. The more you know, the better care you can provide. 5. Remember your partner in the good times - this is their true selves, not the darkness. 6. Listen and show receptivity - without judgement or anger. If communicate becomes strained, the timeout can provide clarity. Encourage communication gently and try not to push. 7. Seek counselling - sharing your feelings can provide an opportunity to off load the heavy stuff and identify resilience and coping strategies. 8. Work as a team - don't let mental illness be in the driver's seat. Offer to go to the Dr's and support them. Understand medication and side effects. Be understanding that some days are harder than others. 9. Words are powerful - remember what you say cannot be taken back. 10. Carer Self-esteem and self-worth - if you compromise these for the sake of supporting your partner, you are likely to live with resentment towards your partner and the circumstances you find yourself in. 11. Don't forget the children - challenging circumstances at home can affect them mentally and emotionally. Speak about mental illness (COPMI.com.au - has some great resources) and be a strong foundation toward maintaining normality in their daily activities. 12. Intimacy - there are many variables here, so from my experience - keep communication open and make couple time to connect. When my husband was depressed, daily hugs or holding hands wherever possible worked for us. Some carers I have spoken with said their partner would demand intimacy. My personal position is that intimacy is about love without demands or attachments relating to expectation. Demands only deplete the goodness in the connection and sharing a a loving experience. [Moderator's note: this thread is for sharing tips on what has worked for you in supported a loved one with a mental health condition. In order to help us keep this thread focused on solutions, please start a new thread if you are seeking support from the community around how to best support your loved one.]

All discussions

Gato46 Wife Feft
  • replies: 1

Wife LeftResided in China for 20 years, married a Chinese women some 10 years ago ,(wife is 35 and myself 77 now) returned to Australia 4 years ago and with child and wife, she is very unhappy, myself not perfect some lies were told in our marriage b... View more

Wife LeftResided in China for 20 years, married a Chinese women some 10 years ago ,(wife is 35 and myself 77 now) returned to Australia 4 years ago and with child and wife, she is very unhappy, myself not perfect some lies were told in our marriage but I am to blame on all most everything, she suffers depression blame me for it, suggesting I should see a therapist instead of her . Sone after our daughter was born the she become aggressive and insulting and swearing at me angry at not listening at her advice about company matters, on many occasions she wouldn’t t stop yelling and swearing had to send her home with my driver, trashed the apartment a few times and I let it go thinking it has something to do with post-natal depressions, suggest then she should see a doctor but in China this is a no-no. Then and now, attempting to have some kind of conversation is futile, she constantly interrupts and get very angry. Just before she left our home, told me she was dating on line to find out if she is still desirable and find love , that was very hurtful. My daughter tells me , “mama wants you to die to find another man younger to look after her”. Left home some 3 weeks ago and said she needs time to evaluate our relationship and she wants to come back in two months. For the las 4 year no sex and the level of personal insults toward child and me and swearing is staggering. She said sorry for being a monster but her excuse ‘I am angry’. Twice had to call the police got crazy and attempted to commit suicide and taken to hospital , she convinced the doctors nothing wrong with her, they let he go back home. Despite everything , still ,call me stupid, I have felling’s for the women just very worried to let her back home without her seeking mental help , I have a child and she doesn’t want mom to come back home. The child become withdrawn, lost appetite and stroppy now , she tells me mama hurts her and I am scared of her. As an aside, my wife is a very intelligent lady, I employed her in China as my translators, and she had a BS in Exterior Commence, she told her self very fluent in English and turns that she was very efficient in to running my aerospace business, year later she become partner in to the business. My wife had an affinity to the western world and at my retiring we moved to Australia. Once she become an Australian citizen she enrolls at the universities to study law , first year passing all examination with very high percentage and she got herself a part time job as a clerical in a local law firm. She has a golden heart and shares with the family. Don’t understand how is possible someone with depression act normal and for some reason becomes a monster. Some time in my mind I think, was I used to a ticked to the west..? Our age gap is huge, then again culturally Chinese women don’t mind age and looks as long the man looks after them. Can folks with depression mask the change of personality..? what can I do to help, let her go to find her own way or keep soldering on..? Respectfullygato

Matchy69 struggling with special needs children
  • replies: 970

Does anyone else have children with special needs.I am struggling with mine.My youngest cant use a toilet when their at the age they should be.I am getting tired of changing them,does that make me a bad parent?The constant hyperepisodes are taking th... View more

Does anyone else have children with special needs.I am struggling with mine.My youngest cant use a toilet when their at the age they should be.I am getting tired of changing them,does that make me a bad parent?The constant hyperepisodes are taking their strain especially that i am going through other personal stuff in my life

lmnop Lost
  • replies: 2

I’ve got a lot of little things eating me away. I’ve recent lost a friendship with a friend with no real understanding why. I’ve failed at a job interview that I was super experienced and qualified for and I’ve been told that my current role will cea... View more

I’ve got a lot of little things eating me away. I’ve recent lost a friendship with a friend with no real understanding why. I’ve failed at a job interview that I was super experienced and qualified for and I’ve been told that my current role will cease at the end of the year and I’ll have to apply for it if I want to keep doing similar work. I’ll still have a job but it will be doing something else, I don’t know what and at 63, and a specialist in my field, I’m left bewildered and embarrassed. Everyone I work with seemed to think I was really good at my job. I thought I was really good at my job. I thought I was above average at my job. I was clearly wrong. I’m devastated to be honest. My boyfriend smokes weed. We’ve been together 20 years and we have a 19yo old son at uni and living interstate. My BF smokes weed and tries to solve my problem's with really stupid advice that does my head in. . He sometimes restrains me if I try to get away from him. He tells me to stop crying or stop being sad and this makes me worse but I sometimes can’t get away from him. I feel like I hate him. I wish he would go away forever. He’s not engaged in this relationship he’s not interested in being with me. No sex. My friend was my rock but she’s a stoner too. She is 10 years younger and we used to do heaps of cool stuff together like bike riding and lunches and walks. I didn’t spend much time with her in evenings as she was too drunk and stoned. So we were solid daytime friends. Until her son started hanging around hitting on my grown up friends and getting wasted at my place and generally being a pain in the ass. My boyfriend told me he harassed another friend of ours and she was uncomfortable. I spoke to the boys dad, my friends hubby about this behaviour and he agreed it had become a problem. The kid didn’t work and was pulling cones with his mum at 10am. Hubby tried to sort it out and the kid moved out initially in anger, to live with friends in Sydney (and got a job) but my friend got really angry with me and blamed me for him leaving. I later found that my BF denied that anything happened. My friend thinks I made it up because I’m trying to control her life. Now she’s bringing other people into it. I’ve been really understanding of her as a mother myself. But I am super sad that she’s dragging other friends of mine into this. So my bf throws me under a bus, gets in my face when he’s stoned, and my career is ended and I lost my friends. I’m lonely & sad

elf16 Sister has isolated herself
  • replies: 7

My sister is in her mid 30s, lives alone and has completely isolated herself from all family and friends for 3 months. She has stopped going to work. This started just after our paternal Grandma died. She is normally a very active, outgoing and extro... View more

My sister is in her mid 30s, lives alone and has completely isolated herself from all family and friends for 3 months. She has stopped going to work. This started just after our paternal Grandma died. She is normally a very active, outgoing and extroverted person. About 5 weeks ago our mum and her bff went around to see her and she agreed to a group chat where we could all post positive things from our days in an attempt to minimise pressure on her to contact us all individually. She had also agreed to begin seeing a psychologist but failed to attend any of the three Telehealth appointments we had set up for her. She is beginning to disengage from the one place we have contact with her and she doesn’t seem to be making any progress or getting any help. We’re at a loss of how to help her.

Smonstee Son with MDD and finding it difficult to help him
  • replies: 1

I am the mother of a 19yo son with major depressive illnessHe is under the care of a psychologist and psychiatrist (on medication) but nothing seems to be working. He is due to start TMS soon but has no hope that it will work. He has quit Uni and tod... View more

I am the mother of a 19yo son with major depressive illnessHe is under the care of a psychologist and psychiatrist (on medication) but nothing seems to be working. He is due to start TMS soon but has no hope that it will work. He has quit Uni and today he wants to quit his casual job, saying the pain of living is too hard.He says he has no plans to self-harm but talks about wishing he were dead. All the time. It's hard to hear it. There's nothing I can do to help. He is withdrawing further and further into himself. No matter how we tackle it, nothing works. I don't know what do next to help him, I dont want him to quit his job but can see that we have no choice.Does anyone have any advice?

SML17 How do I help
  • replies: 1

Hi, I have a family member who is going through a separation of relationship of 11 years and they have small children. I want to help but have no idea where to start. It looks like the family member will not be able to stay where they are currently l... View more

Hi, I have a family member who is going through a separation of relationship of 11 years and they have small children. I want to help but have no idea where to start. It looks like the family member will not be able to stay where they are currently living as will need to sell the house. I don't believe housing support is available unfortunately due to the income being too high (education sector) What options are out there?Also in terms of speaking to someone for support how do we go about doing this?What can I do to help them? Thank you for reading this and any helpful tips.

alittleatsea Lost and lonely but never alone
  • replies: 5

I’m seeking some guidance or support please. I am in my second marriage and in a blended family situation, which is hard enough. We used to have every second weekend to spend together, but unfortunately my ex husband is currently in jail so my life h... View more

I’m seeking some guidance or support please. I am in my second marriage and in a blended family situation, which is hard enough. We used to have every second weekend to spend together, but unfortunately my ex husband is currently in jail so my life has changed in an instant; child support, no second weekend to myself, supporting my child alone through this terrible and shocking time. I have a demanding but well paying job, and have always prided myself on being resilient and still being able to be joyful and enjoy life. My husband has been suffering from depression for about 2 years now. He’s finally on medication, albeit it also serves as an anti inflammatory after complicated surgery so such a relief to get him on something that was helping him a tiny bit. He forgot to refill his script, and had two weekends in a row of unacceptable behaviour. He has now reacted to those two weekends in the extreme. Extreme dieting and exercise, and no alcohol. I know bonding things we can do together don’t have to involve alcohol or treat meals as such, but we used to really enjoy going out for dinner or creating cocktails at home, shopping for lovely food together. He was initially loving and supportive of my child when my ex was first arrested, but treats my child so differently now to his own children who are with us each second weekend and that makes me sad. I feel so alone but never alone. I now no longer have financial support from my ex, even though I have a great job that’s a shock or time to myself, and another rug of pleasure with my husband has been instantly removed too. He doesn’t want to share a trip to a foodie store, or a lovely bottle of wine and spends a couple of hours most nights at the gym so have lost nighttime connection too. I feel like I can’t talk to my family or friends because it’s my husbands mental health, and feel myself slipping further towards numbness with no pleasure or something to look forward to. I can’t seem to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Briars Intro
  • replies: 2

Hi all, I’m an alcoholic drinking 1.5 bottles of wine a day. Have done two stints at 7 day rehab last year but nothing sticks beyond 60 days. Desperate…

Hi all, I’m an alcoholic drinking 1.5 bottles of wine a day. Have done two stints at 7 day rehab last year but nothing sticks beyond 60 days. Desperate…

pastrychef Helping a secret alcoholic who doesn't think they have a problem
  • replies: 4

Hi everyone, my husband has been a secret alcoholic for a long time. He's very creative/careful about how he purchases, drinks and disposes of the alcohol. Mostly before he gets home. Hiding his problem is huge and it's miracle he hasn't been caught ... View more

Hi everyone, my husband has been a secret alcoholic for a long time. He's very creative/careful about how he purchases, drinks and disposes of the alcohol. Mostly before he gets home. Hiding his problem is huge and it's miracle he hasn't been caught by police. Although he lost his license drink-driving before we were together. I realised we had a problem when I discovered he'd had 7 full strength cans while I was at work and he was at home looking after our baby. Now I have discovered that he recently drank-drove (over the limit) with our kids in the car. I haven't forgiven him. He says he has no problem, he's said sorry (gets angry), says there's nothing more he can do, I have the problem if I'm not "over it" and that he's not going to put up with me bringing it up. There are many, many more incidents and I'm tired of it. He is adamant he will not see a GP, psychologist or counselor of any kind, solo or together as a couple.Q - How can you help someone in the pre-contemplation phase?I've read about people having to want to change, but can I help him get there?

elf16 How to help my sister
  • replies: 4

My sister (36f lgbt) is currently going through a mental health crisis and has been suffering the following symptoms that I’m aware of since the start of December: - panic attacks - insomnia - sensory overload with sound and light - depression - inab... View more

My sister (36f lgbt) is currently going through a mental health crisis and has been suffering the following symptoms that I’m aware of since the start of December: - panic attacks - insomnia - sensory overload with sound and light - depression - inability to leave her home - withdrawing from friends and family - inability to attend work for 8+ weeks - incoherent speech - chronic pain - racing thoughts and inability to communicate coherently via voice or text or in person. She won’t talk on the phone to anyone who she has had (limited) engagement with since this all began. Initially I assisted her in putting in some boundaries with friends and family to give her some breathing space to deal with grief, trauma and stress. But it’s now at a point where she will not engage even with me beyond a simple ‘hello’ sms each day. Our mum, myself and her best friend have come up with a plan that I’d like some advice on. We’ve reached out to the CATT team and local mental health triage team but without giving them my sisters name and address (something we’ll do after we’ve exhausted gentler options) Mum and sisters BFF will attempt to visit with my sister tomorrow. Unfortunately I live 3.5 hours away. They plan to give her a few options: 1. Sister and mum go to GP to get referral for inpatient 2. Sister agrees to call CATT team for assessment with mum and bff 3. We do a family referral to CATT Team without my sisters consent. Given her disengagement with family, friends and living alone were of the opinion that an inpatient stay would be most suitable. I’d love feedback on the above mentioned plan