The first step for a parent trying to help a loved one make friends is to recognize that withdrawal is not the person’s fault.  It is not a choice.  It is part of the illness.  If the opportunity arises to discuss loneliness, the most important thing you can do is listen without trying to offer suggestions. Simply listen. Let the person know you hear what they are saying.

He says: “I have no friends.”
And you say:  “It’s hard to find friends when you are dealing with so much.  It must feel lonely.”[NSERT_1]

Then wait for a response.  Listen again. Repeat what you think you hear them saying.  That kind of listening tells the other person that you understand and value what they say.  Learn to get comfortable with silence.

If you were to respond with “Well, why don’t you call so and so?," it sounds as though you are not really listening even though you may think you are helping.

Get to know people who live well with mental illness.

Get to know people who live well with mental illness. This can help both you and your family member.  Healthy Minds Cooperative is a great place to meet people, find a friend, and bring them home for tea.  You will find that someone who has lived the experience will know best how to ease some of the loneliness. Members and staff of the cooperative can point you in the direction of peer support for the person you care about.  The cooperative welcomes people living with mental illness and family members.  Members have access to a variety of  fun programs as well as a small library with computers. They also have an interesting newsletter called The Blue Horse Chronicles.   Membership is $5 a year.

To inquire about their services call 404-3504 or visit their website. The cooperative is located at Bayers Road just beside Lawtons Pharmacy and down the stairs near the Mental Health Outpatients Department and Blood Collection Services.

Mental Illness and Your Child

The IWK Health Centre offers programs that provide services and supports for children or youth living with mental illness.
Visit the IWK Health Centre website for more information. You can call IWK Mental Health Services at 902-464-4110. Referrals can be made by youth, their families, pysicians, school and community partners. If you  are a parent or youth or other family member who needs help finding and accessing services can contact the IWK's mental health advocate for children, youth and families at 902-470-7302.

If you live in West Hants, services for children and youth are provided by West Hants Community Mental Health. Call 902-792-2042.