February 20, 2009

Nine strategies help person and family cope with mental illness

Tom and Fran Smith of St. Nicholas Parish in O’Fallon, Ill., teach nine strategies that offer hope for a balanced life for people and families affected by a loved one’s mental illness.

  • “Help our loved one find and continue to take the medication needed for a balanced life.”
  • “Urge our loved one to maintain a supportive relationship with a therapist, counselor or sponsor.”
  • “Learn as much as we can about the mental disorder of our loved one.”
  • “Assist our loved one in developing a healthy self-esteem since it is critical for a balanced emotional life.”
  • “Accept mental illness as a fact of life for our loved one even though this mental illness does not encompass all of life.”
  • “Take care of ourselves by proper exercise, sleep, diet and relationships, and by monitoring our feelings.”
  • “Become a supportive network of family and/or friends who know about the mental illness and who commit to acting in the best interest of our loved one as far as we are able.”
  • “Identify the early warning signs of a change in the thinking or behavior that precede a more difficult phase of the mental illness, and help our loved one when these signs emerge.”
  • “Acknowledge our dependence on a Higher Power and seek guidance from that Higher Power in whatever way that is comfortable to us.”

(For more information about Tom Smith’s books or Tom and Fran Smith’s ministry, log on to their Web site at www.KarlaSmithFoundation.org.)

(Related: Speakers offer hope for those struggling with mental illness)

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