Does one of your loved ones live with a mental disorder? This is how you can help

A friend who suffers from depression, a sister who lives with schizophrenia, a father who has bipolar disorder. We all know someone close to us who has a serious mental illness. And very often, we don’t know exactly how to act with it. Should I give you some advice? Confront him? What to do when he shares delusions?

Tania Lecomte, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Montreal and a researcher at the Research Center of the Montreal University Institute of Mental Health, has just published a small book to better equip us for this purpose.

Entitled Side by Side: How to Help a Friend or Loved One Who Has a Serious Mental Illness?this booklet highlights the world-renowned expertise of this psychologist who specializes in developing and researching treatments for people struggling with a serious mental disorder.

It presents the behaviors to adopt to support a loved one in this situation, as well as those to avoid so as not to hinder their recovery.


Side by Side: How to Help a Friend

Popularized and concise, this book published by Éditions Va savoir offers simple but scientifically proven solutions to guide “people who feel helpless and want to help, but don’t know how to do it”, says Tania Lecomte.

Because, very often, by wanting to lend a hand, those around you end up doing harm, says the researcher. That is why her book makes a list of behaviors to avoid, in particular overprotection or, on the contrary, detachment.

“Many times, parents will tend to overprotect the child who has just been diagnosed with a mental disorder, to decide for him, to make all his meals, his washing, illustrates the psychologist. She sends him the message that he is out of shape so he will be less likely to take charge and believe in his abilities. On the contrary, if the parents do not dare to tell the child to pick up, take a bath, get active, they are just as detrimental to her recovery.

So what needs to be done? Some advice, taken from the book: stretch a stick regularly to keep the bond with the person intact, encourage him to move physically, offer him simple activities that he likes, get him to take care of himself.

“These are strategies that allow the person with a mental disorder to activate, get out of their head, re-inhabit their body and thus be less distressed and isolated,” says Tania Lecomte.

Help, but don’t forget yourself

If Tania Lecomte’s book invites those around you to mobilize to support a loved one, it also highlights the importance of taking care of your own mental health. “I offer methods of help, but that do not imply that the loved one acts as a therapist and the help becomes a burden,” she insists.

So the last part of the booklet includes tips and resources: clinics, organizations, family groups, etc. – be present without exhausting yourself.

More about Science Bath

Bain de science is the new collection of Éditions Va savoir, directed by Sonia Lupien, neuroscientist and professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Addictions at the University of Montreal.

This collection features short books on topics of importance to the public. Science Bath refers to the fact that small books can be read in the bath before the water gets cold.

Side by Side: How to Help a Friend or Loved One Who Has a Serious Mental Illness? It is the first book in this collection. “This little guide will, I am sure, become THE book to have on hand when helping a friend or loved one with a serious mental disorder get well, without putting too much of a burden on your shoulders to preserve your own mental health. health”, believes Sonia Lupien.

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