14 Principles for Carers

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Realise that Mental illness is not rare. It may seem to be but that’s because it’s not talked about. There are thousands of people like you and me who will face this illness in their immediate family.

Learn as much as possible as soon as possible about mental illness: its cause, its course, the treatment options available and its outcome.

Never become a moth around the flame of self-blame: it can destroy your chance of coping.   It can destroy YOU.   Free yourself with the knowledge that mental illness is NOT caused by relatives.

Seek professional helpers who are effective. Identify them by their compassionate natures, informative style and their eagerness to have you as an ally.

Be aware that spending massive amounts of time with the person who has a mental illness can make matters worse.

Maintain and establish friendships, activities and hobbies, particularly those that take you outside the home.

Set your sights on maximum appropriate independence for your relative and for yourself.

Don’t be surprised to discover that in the end, it is the ability to change and to look at things differently that distinguishes relatives who will cope from those who will not.



Contact a self-help group where you will gain and give support.

Accept that mental illness is complex and as such, the prompting of our natural instincts is often an unreliable guide to coping and caring We, the relatives, do need training.

Get to know the origins of the pressure (the ever-increasing pressures) to which we the relatives are subject.

Pay great attention to the needs of the other members of the family.

Take heed that unlimited unconditional self-sacrifice on behalf of someone with a mental illness is fatal to effective caring and coping.

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Story by Dr Ken Alexander, 14 Principles for the Relatives of a Person with Mental Illness

Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

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