Welcome! Our goal is to make things just a little bit easier for you as a family member, caregiver or friend of someone who is living with a mental illness or who is exhibiting symptoms of mental illness.

When you first recognized your family member or friend might have a mental illness you probably felt many emotions: shock, fear, sadness, anger. You also likely felt all alone. You are not. During their lifetime, one in five Canadians will experience mental illness. This will directly affect their family and friends as well.

About this Website

This site is for family, friends and caregivers of adults living with mental distress or who may have a mental illness. It includes information on how to get help, communicating with someone you love, supporting your family member and focusing on you and your family. This site has been produced for you by a group of family members, caregivers and mental health professionals.

No one’s illness, whether physical or mental, affects the individual only. If someone you care about is living with mental illness, you and your family may have to take on more responsibilities and deal with things you never expected. These additional responsibilities may in turn affect your work or even your own health.

Supportive families and friends play an essential role in helping someone they care about cope with mental illness. Those who best manage their illnesses often have a strong social network to support them.

If you are supporting someone you care about who is living with mental illness, or you suspect that someone you care about may have a mental illness, you need information that helps you and others to support that person. This site can help.

What's On This Site?

Getting Help
Where can you get help? What can you expect from service providers, and what can they expect from you? Do you know what to do when things go wrong, or what to do if your family member refuses help?

Sometimes communicating with your family member will be one of the hardest things you do. The communication tips in this section are useful for everyone in your family, including your family member living with mental illness.

You & Your Family
How can you and your family manage the effects of mental illness? When is it time to take care of yourself? Though mental illness can be devastating, family life can still be rewarding.

Understanding Mental Illness
This section provides basic information about mental illness and answers some of the questions you may have. It also provides other helpful resources where you will find more detailed information.

Managing Mental Illness
It is possible to manage mental illness. It is possible for people living with mental illness to be in control of their illness just as it is possible for their family members to be in control of their lives.

Supporting Recovery
It’s never too early to think - or to talk – about recovery. Recovery is about experiencing improved quality of life and higher levels of functioning. Supportive families play an essential role in their family member’s recovery journey.

Mental health services and supports for youth or children

This site is a resource for family, friends and caregivers of adults living with mental illness. Should you need information on mental health services and supports for youth or children living with mental illness, visit the IWK Health Centre website at www.iwk.nshealth.ca. Follow the link to Care Services and click on Mental Health and Addictions for a description of available services. A short video presentation can also be viewed online. It provides an overview of the IWK’s mental health and addictions services.

To contact IWK Mental Health Services, call 902-464-4110. Youth, their families, physicians, school and community partners may make referral requests through this number. You may also want to contact the mental health advocate for children, youth and families at the IWK; call 470-7302. The mental health advocate helps children, youth and families find and access services and advocates on their behalf. If you live in West Hants, services for children and youth are provided by West Hants Community Mental Health; call 902-792-2042.