So Your Loved One Has a Mental Illness.



Stigma is strong and prevalent surrounding mental illnesses. From surveys, it has been gathered that 15% of people label people with mental illnesses as a “burden to society,” and 18% of people disagree with the statement that people with mental illnesses are less dangerous than generally supposed. However, people struggling will mental illness are actually more likely to be victims of crimes than the perpetrators. 81% of people believe they are not informed to being only slightly informed on mental illness (Stigma). The amount of uninformed people on mental illness makes it hard for those suffering to reach out and get the help they need.

To eliminate stigma, and make people aware of the existing stigmas and to inform them can make the bridge to recovery easier and even encourage more people to reach out.


The first step to combatting this stigma is understanding. To be able to empathize and help, you have to understand what mental illnesses are. The Family Toolkit from Here to Help states that mental disorders are “a range of specific conditions which affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, actions and mental functioning,” and that “these disorders are associated with significant distress and may result in a diminished ability to cope with daily life over an extended period of time.” The video below is of 13 people, ages 18-25, who talk about what it’s like to live with a mental illness (Familytoolkit).


When a loved one suffers from a mental illness, it can affect your life, particularly if you live with this person or engage with them on a daily basis. It can be emotionally tasking to know someone you care for is suffering. It’s important to understand that you are not to blame for the mental illness your loved one is facing, and that negative reactions such as shame or hurt are not uncommon. However, instead of holding onto these negative emotions, it is important to take care of your own mental wellbeing and the other relationships you have: The American Psychology Association says that “clear, honest communication is crucial for all family members. For example, don’t be afraid to ask [your family members] how they feel about the changes to the family. Keeping a line of communication open will help things go more smoothly — both at the time of a new diagnosis, and well into the future” (Psychology).

Secondly, beyond your own wellbeing, loved ones can play a crucial role in the healing of their loved ones. Without support, the disorder can go untreated, or recovery can be harder and prolonged because of the lack of acceptance or support the person is receiving. Family members truly can make a difference in their loved ones recovery.



First thing’s first: have the conversation. Making it clear you genuinely want to know how someone is doing and asking how they are and if they want to talk can make it easier and offer a gateway for them to open up (Supporting).

It’s important to remember that you do not “cure” mental illness, but you can recover from it. Recovery from a mental illness means “ learning to successfully manage a disorder, having control over symptoms and having a quality of life,” and that it is “less about returning to a former state than about realizing the potential person you can become” (Familytoolkit).

Encourage them to visit a health professional, whether that be a school counselor, a psychologist, or their normal doctor (who can help them find the right person to get help from). These people will work with them to develop a treatment plan. You can help them to stick to their treatment plans, encourage them through it, and get to understand their experience with their condition (Familytoolkit).

Keep in mind that mental illnesses vary greatly from each other, and the help needed differs for each. Becoming informed on their specific disorder can help guide you in the right direction for how you can help. You can always consult their health professional as well, and ask what they think are the best ways for you to help, as well as directly asking what it is your loved one likes or doesn’t like that you can do to try and help.




To end stigma, we can all be supporters. How can you help others in your community learn the information in this project?

Made with Padlet

Active Minds is a nonprofit organization which aims to support mental health awareness and education for students. They have a chapter network made up of over 450 chapters, and while most are on college campuses, my high school is one of these chapters. These chapters serve as “passionate advocates, stigma fighters, and educators for mental health.” My school’s chapter often meets during our club periods.


“FamilyToolKit.” Here to Help, HeretoHelp, 2015, Accessed 2019.

Glynn, Shirley M., et al. “How to Cope When a Loved One Has a Serious Mental Illness.”

American Psychological Association, Accessed 2019.

“Psychology Help Center.” American Psychological Association, Accessed 2019.

“The Stigma of Mental Illness.” Mental Health: An American Addictions Centers Recourse, Recovery Brands, Accessed 2019.

“Supporting Someone.” Beyond Blue, Accessed 2019.

Share this project
  1. April 25, 2019 by logan

    This is a really great project!! I love all your facts and statistics, it really makes it interesting to read! This is a really great page for someone to look at if their loved one is suffering from a mental illness

    • April 28, 2019 by Addie Anderson

      Thanks Logan! I’m glad you could take away some useful information.

  2. April 27, 2019 by Juliana.Shank

    Hey, great project. My project is about trying to combat this stigma with our healthcare laws, check it out!

    • April 28, 2019 by Addie Anderson

      Thanks, Juliana, I’ll take a look!

  3. April 28, 2019 by Heather .Hersey

    Hi Addie, well done! From what you learned, what do you think is the most important thing to tell someone after a loved one has been diagnosed?

  4. April 28, 2019 by Riley.Weinstein

    This is such a lovely presentation! It has great facts and research supporting it. It is a wonderful page if someone is currently needing helping.

  5. April 29, 2019 by Taylor Hurt

    This is such a great project Addie! I love the variety of types of sources. It was great to hear from others struggling with their mental health so I could hear stories from the source. Great job!

  6. April 30, 2019 by Mahek.Uttamchandani

    I love the use of media as well as writing, it really balances out and makes things more interesting, as well as adds to the presentation of your topic. Overall, really great page and thanks for speaking out on a such a controversial topic.

  7. May 01, 2019 by Katie

    Hi Addie! I really enjoyed your project! I think the way you presented all that you learned with the different visuals and videos really helped it all come together. One thing I’m curious to know if you learned anything about, is how stigma differs amongst generations, or if there’s a different kind of stigma someone might experience from their friends vs from their family.

  8. May 01, 2019 by Shilpa H.

    Hey Addie,
    This is such an amazing project. My topic was similar in that it also discussed how to talk to loved ones about mental illness. Being informed is definitely the first step in supporting your loved ones, especially if they chose to confide in you. I especially loved how you talked about being able to empathize before one can truly help another. Thank you for your project!

  9. May 02, 2019 by Mary.Rogers

    Hey Addie! I absolutely loved the title of your Catalyst Conference presentation, it was so creative and made me interested in reading what your topic was all about. I think it was a great idea to put in infographics as you explained your information in a way that is fun to read and look at. Another thing I loved about your presentation was the video you included about what to do when you know someone who is living with a mental illness. Overall great job!

  10. May 03, 2019 by Chloe Countryman

    Very catchy title! It only got better! I loved all the different ways you used to show your information. It was very engaging. GREAT JOB!

  11. May 03, 2019 by Mia Crum

    Hey Addie! I also did my project on the stigma of mental illness, so seeing someone else’s perspective on the topic was really cool! I like the layout of your presentation and the video and infographic you included. Being able to talk to people about mental illness/health is so important in helping someone feeling supported. I also liked that you added a why you should care section early on so that the reader could easily associate themselves to this topic and feel connected to it.

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