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12 Ways to Care for Yourself While Caring for Someone with Mental Illness


10. Let Go of Others’ Judgments.

When someone has not experienced mental health challenges themselves or with a loved one, they sometimes lack compassion or are inadvertently hurtful. In one ward, a sister’s daughter was struggling. When a small group of women in the ward started gossiping about it, the sister took their judgments very personally, until one day she realized that those women did not know her or her child or what they were dealing with. But God did. And He saw a mother who was doing everything she could to love and nurture a child who was struggling tremendously. 

Do not for one minute allow the judgments of others to determine who you are or who your loved one is. God knows who you are. And He knows who your loved one is. Trust in His love, guidance, and comfort as you continue to strive to do your best.

11. Help to Destigmatize Mental Illness.

Unfortunately, mental illness continues to carry a tremendously isolating stigma. Elyn Saks, a professor at USC Gould School of Law and one who has struggled with schizophrenia for more than 30 years, says, “People may blame the person, not realizing that mental illness is a no-fault brain disease that you can’t just will away.” 

Whenever possible, stand up for people who struggle with mental illness, and educate others about the nature of such illnesses. The more that people understand mental illness, the more people will be able to be compassionate.

12. Create and Use a Gospel Toolkit.

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Prayer and scripture study are essential tools to navigating tough times, but don’t stop there. Make a list of every possible gospel tool you can utilize in your circumstances, and use them often.

Be sure to include forgiveness, including forgiving your loved one and yourself when you make mistakes.  Add fasting for the perspective and inspiration it can bring.

Include focused, thoughtful partaking of the sacrament as a powerful way to stay grounded from week to week. Add hope and faith. And be sure to include love, as you can never go wrong when you choose to act out of love. You may not always receive love back in the way you hoped, but you will know that you are loved in ways that will sustain you each and every day. 


Debra Sansing Woods is the author of Mothering with Spiritual Power: Book of Mormon Inspirations for Raising a Righteous Family. You can visit her at debrawoods.com

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