How to be supportive

Recognizing what the person you care about is going through and providing them with support can make a huge difference in their recovery. Below are some resources to help you understand how to be there during their journey, from recognizing the issue to seeking help and getting treatment.

Tips for Being Supportive

  • Acknowledgment: Listen to your family member and acknowledge the way they are feeling. Often, people with mental illness can feel like they are misunderstood; try to understand where they're coming from.  
  • Patience: The road to recovery may be long and bumpy. Everyone is different, so it may take some time to find the right tools and treatment. Have the patience to walk along on this journey with them. 
  • Real life support: Mental illness may relate to real life problems, for example, in the workplace, scool, social life, or relationships. Helping to support the person you care about in their life challenges can help to support their well-being. 
  • In crisis: Crisis is a time that can be scary, but it can also be a time for learning. You may be able to provide an external view for the person you care about in regards to how they may be able to grow from this experience. 
  • Caring for yourself: If you feel healthy and connected, you will be more effective in providing support. 
  • Watch our video below where we've collected responses from youth with lived experience on how to support a loved one with depression.


*If someone you know is in a mental health emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest hospital.  

Watch the following clip of a family support worker discussing the "Family Guide to Mental Health Recovery"


Outside Resources

  • General Mental Health: Learn how to support people with mental disorders with Here to Help BC's a tip sheet for friends and families. Here to Help BC also has a longer and more extensive toolkit for families supporting those with a mental health or substance use disorder. 
  • Anxiety: Anxiety BC identifies what can be unhelpful and helpful strategies for friends and family looking to support those struggling with anxiety. Look into their home toolkit for exercises and step-by-step instructions for dealing with your child's anxieties. 
  • Suicide: Dealing with someone who has thoughts of suicide? Both Crisis Centre BC and Here to Help BC have fact sheets on recognizing the warning signs and what you can do to help.
  • Self-harm: If the person you care about is hurting themselves on purpose, read Here to Help BC's fact sheet on recognizing and helping someone who self harm.
  • Substance use: From Grief to Action is a support network for families of drug users, read their coping toolkit for parents or guardians.