Support for Family Members and Friends 

Counselling in Perth


How can counselling help family members and friends of those people experiencing a mental illness or addiction?

Family members can also suffer when faced with the knowledge that their loved one is struggling with a mental illness. They can experience a range of conflicting feelings including frustration, confusion, sadness, guilt, anger, and resentment.  Some of these emotions many be hard to process and may affect their ability to interact and support their loved ones in a useful and meaningful way. 

It can be extremely difficult if the person you want to support does not want your help.  For example, someone who does not recognise that their drug use is a problem and does not appreciate your “help”.

Trying to support someone on your own can be very difficult and also isolating.  There are many organisations in the community who can provide you with a range of services to help you as best they can. Resources may include education and facts about mental illness, individual counselling, group support sessions, online forums and chats, and helplines (see Crisis Support and National Help Lines)


Here are some tips to help other people experiencing:

Depression or anxiety

  • See if you find a quiet time to take them aside and gently tell them what you’ve been noticing about their mood or behaviour lately.
  • Let them know that you are there to support them as best you can.
  • If they have not been assessed by their GP or a mental health professional, suggest making an appointment and offer to accompany them to the appointment.
  • Find information about depression or anxiety from websites or community resources.
  • Exercise, diet and sleep all play a big part in overall mental health, so encourage the person to have a look at these factors.
  • Encourage the person to accept social invitations, and ask friends and family to include them in their plans, without putting pressure on the person to accept.
  • Watch out for talk that suggests they may be thinking about suicide. Watch out for phrases such as “I want to kill myself...I just want to die...I don’t want to live anymore...I cant cope anymore...no-one would miss me...there’s no point...” as well as behaviours such as giving away their possessions which may suggest they may have made up their mind to suicide.
  • Don’t avoid them because you are unsure what to say or how to help. Be honest and get some support yourself from others.
  • Don’t expect that they can just “snap out of it” or “get over it” or “get on with it”. It’s not that simple and those sorts of expectations can be very unhelpful.
  • Don’t support the use of drugs or alcohol as coping strategies. Alcohol itself is a depressant.


Addiction - alcohol, substances, gambling, pornography, Internet

  • See if you find a quiet time to take them aside and gently tell them what you’ve been noticing about their mood or behaviour lately.
  • Ask how you can support them.
  • Get as much information and knowledge as you can so that you can be prepared to help if they request it.
  • Join a support group yourself so that you are around others who may be feeling the same as you.


Suicidal Thoughts or Ideation

  • Anyone who is talking of suicide or about killing themself needs to be taken seriously.
  • If you believe that someone is in serious danger of harming themself or someone else, do not hesitate to get outside help. Call triple-zero (000), or take them to the emergency department of your nearest hospital.  You are much better to err on the side of caution than run the risk of something serious happening.
  • Sit down and listen to them without judgment.  This may be hard for you to do.
  • If they reached out to you, thank them for trusting you, and reassure them that you will be there to support them.
  • See if they are open to speaking to someone on a 24/7 crisis line and/or a counsellor.
  • Don't leave them on their own. They might want to isolate themself, so offer to just sit quietly with them if they don't want to talk.
  • Recognise that supporting a person who is feeling like this may be overwhelming and stressful for you. Get help yourself if you need to.
  • Do NOT tell them to snap out of it.
  • Do NOT tell them that suicide is selfish or cowardly. This type of "help" is not likely to be helpful to someone who is already feeling bad about themself.
  • Do NOT tell them that they have so much to live for.
  • Do NOT tell them "what about the people you'll leave behind...how do you think they'll feel?"
  • Do NOT tell them that things could be worse.


If you are seeking the services of a psychologist or counsellor in Perth, please contact me on 0406 033 644 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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