Family Members and Caregivers

When a friend or family member develops a mental health condition, it's important to know that you're not alone. Family members and caregivers often play a large role in helping and supporting the millions of people in the U.S. who experience mental health conditions each year. Many family members and caregivers experience the same thoughts and questions you might be having now.

You may be trying to help a family member who doesn't have access to care or doesn't want help. Or you may want to learn how to support and encourage someone who has been hospitalized or experienced a similar mental health crisis.

We realize that the challenges of mental illness do not only affect an individual's family members but also friends, teachers, neighbors, coworkers and others in the community. Here we use the terms family member and caregiver interchangeably to refer to someone giving emotional, financial or practical support to a person with a mental health condition. Whether you're providing a lot of assistance or very little, the information here can help you better understand the issues that you might face.

Supporting Your Family Member

Across the country, thousands of trained NAMI volunteers bring peer-led programs to a wide variety of community settings, from churches to schools to NAMI Affiliates. With the unique understanding of people with lived experience, these programs and support groups provide outstanding free education, skills training and support.

Learning to Help Your Child and Family

Having a child with a mental health condition can be a challenge, but there are ways to help make things easier. Each year, 1 in 5 kids aged 13-18 experiences a mental health...

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Supporting Father and Son

Helping a family member is difficult, even if you do everything "right." No book, therapist or website can tell you how to prepare for the situations that may arise...

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Family on Couch

Relating to someone you love who has a mental illness can be difficult and frustrating, but there are strategies you can use to improve...

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Taking Care of Yourself

Jogger in the city

To be able to care for the people you love, you must first take care of yourself. It’s like the advice we’re given on airplanes: put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help someone else with theirs. Taking care of yourself is a valid goal on its own, and it helps you support the people you love.

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Crisis Prevention

No one wants to worry about the possibility of a crisis, but they do happen. That doesn't mean you have to feel powerless. Many healthcare providers require patients to create a crisis plan, and may suggest that it be shared with friends and family. Ask your loved one if he has developed a plan.

Father Embracing Son

Having a child with a mental health condition can be a challenge, but there are ways to help make things easier. Each year, 1 in 5 kids aged 13-18 experiences a mental health...

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Couple holding hands

A Recovery Action Plan can also be very helpful for your loved one to plan his overall care, and how to avoid a crisis. If he will not work with you on a plan, you can make one on your own.

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Family on Couch

The thought of a family member, a friend or someone else you care about going missing can be terrifying. You don’t know where they are, if they’re hurt or if they need help. When this person lives with a mental health condition, the situation may be even more serious. 

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Additional Support

Trying to help a family member who has been arrested or finding stable, affordable housing can be challenging. Here are some steps to take to hlep your loved one.

Man being supported

The arrest of a family member or friend can be very upsetting. Trying to figure out what to do and where to start can feel overwhelming. Here are some steps to take

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Stable housing

For some with a mental health condition, the basic necessity of home can be hard to come by. Finding stable, safe and affordable housing can help you...

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Finding Support Near You

NAMI Family-To-Family Program

A free, 12-session educational program for family, significant others and friends of people living with mental illness.

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NAMI Family Support Group

A peer-led support group for family members, caregivers and loved ones of individuals living with mental illness.

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Contact Your Local NAMI for Classes and Programs

Across the country, thousands of trained volunteers bring peer-led programs and lived experience to your community.

LEARN MORE

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