Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Tips to support those with mental illness

The Fanshawe community is pleased to participate in this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day on Wednesday, January 29, 2020.

What is Bell Let’s Talk Day?

This initiative helps promote awareness of mental health issues across Canada and aims to raise support for those suffering from a mental illness. 

woman watching sunset

Do you know someone who is suffering in silence?

Is someone close to you visibly sad, broken or hopeless? It may be hard for them to open up and share with others the pain that they are struggling with but the truth is that they’re not alone. There is hope. Here’s how you can help them on the path to recovery.


Part one: Five tips for how you can support a friend or family member with a mental illness

Submitted by Shirley Porter, Counsellor



  1. Educate yourself about their illness including symptoms and treatment options.  This will help you to understand that there are many treatment options available to help reduce distress, manage the illness and promote recovery. 
  1. Recognize that mental illness is, first and foremost, a physical illness that starts in the body and can affect mood, behaviour, and how one thinks. They can’t “get over it” or just “let it go”. Understand that mental illness is not about a character flaw or weakness.
  1. Don’t take your loved one’s symptoms personally. If your loved one had the flu, you wouldn’t be offended if they had a fever.  Recognize that social withdrawal, sadness, or not enjoying the things they used to might be a symptom of depression. It’s not about how much you are valued in the person’s life.  (Note:  However, mental illness does not excuse abusive behaviour).
  1. Acknowledge to your loved one that you might not understand what they are going though but you are trying, and are willing to listen.
  1. Listen with compassion. If you don’t know what to say, try something honest such as, “I don’t know how to help, but I will be here for you,” or alternatively, “I’m sorry you are going through this. It sounds like it’s been really hard. What can I do to help?” Sometimes just being willing to listen is a great comfort, because the person will learn that you accept them as they are. Don’t minimize their pain or try to get them to “look on the bright side” – doing so will only convince them you don’t understand and they will be less likely to talk to you in the future.

With your help, we can make every action count and address the issue of mental illness in youth. To learn more about how you can help support others with mental illness, visit supporting families in patient recovery. It’s important to know that no matter what your situation is, you are not alone. We are here to support you!

support group

Where can you go to find help?

Fanshawe College offers a variety of programs and services to offer aid on the path to recovery:

Share this Blog Post!

Subscribe to our Blog