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Friends´ and Family Support Groups

Abstract: Support groups for family members and friends of people with mental illness can be of great value.

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Friends´ and Family Support Groups

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Question(s): 
Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 29 Aug 2017.

Where can I find other people who are family or friends to persons with mental illnesses? Do you recommend friends´ and family support groups?

Answer:

The situation is not only difficult for the person suffering from a mental disorder but also for family and friends. They might not know how to react and may be unable to learn and find information about all the details concerning the disorder.

Therefore it is of crucial importance that also the family members are informed about the disorder and included in the net of support. Family (and friends') support groups can thereby

  • give information about symptoms, causes, diagnostics and treatment (so-called Psychoeducation)
  • promote an exchange of experiences among members
  • give support for their own emotional problems and crises
  • give information about treatment possibilities and rehabilitation possibilities.

Perhaps even more important:

  • Family members (or friends) should and must live their own lives.
  • Family members (or friends) must learn to set limits to their helpfulness.
  • Family members (or friends) must learn not to feel guilty about the illness.
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