Supporting a Loved One After Residential Mental Health Treatment
People who have a strong support system of family and friends are more likely to stay healthy and successfully manage their illnesses long term. Just showing your love and letting your loved one know that she matters to you and many others in the community can go a long way. You can also take a few other practical steps in addition to expressing your support.
One of the reasons Skyland Trail clients thrive in treatment is that we provide a structured schedule that helps clients get back into the routine of daily living. Leaving that pre-defined structure and managing time independently can be a challenge.
As a family member, you can help your loved one create a colorful schedule that offers a variety of activities and provides structure to each day. Offer ideas and provide support with the goal of empowering your loved one to manage his or her time independently. Repetition and routine will help develop life-long habits for healthy living.
How to help your loved one develop a colorful schedule:
- Have something in place first thing in the morning. It can be a walk, meditation, a breakfast routine, or anything that helps start the day with purpose.
- Encourage healthy sleep patterns by defining a consistent bedtime and wake-up time.
- Reserve time each day to do something that stimulates her intellect, such as reading an article or listening to a podcast.
- Include daily hygiene practices. Note times to take a shower, brush teeth, get a hair cut, etc.
- Assign time for chores throughout the week, such as grocery shopping, doing laundry or mowing the lawn.
- Dedicate consistent times for meals and snacks. Try to allow time to eat mindfully instead of while watching TV or focusing on some other task. Avoid snacking after 7PM.
- Include 30 minutes of exercise or physical activity each day.
- Make sure each week includes social interactions with friends and family, even if it’s a phone call or video chat.
- Leave the house. Each month should include an activity in the community with a group. Whatever his interests – books, bikes, running, knitting, singing, gaming – there’s a group out there doing it. Join in!
- Include and prioritize appointments with therapists, psychiatrists, and support groups as needed.
Three Supportive Strategies
- Remember that progress may be gradual. Focus on and celebrate progress, even if it seems small. Try not to place too much emphasis on what he hasn’t done.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about your expectations of one another. Make sure you’re both on the same page about the kind of support your loved one finds helpful, and the kind of support you are prepared to give.
- Remember to model the behaviors you expect. Take care of your own health. Eat healthy, exercise, engage with friends and family, and see mental health professionals when needed.
Relapse can happen. And that doesn’t mean that anybody failed or that treatment didn’t work. Sometimes a second round is needed to get back on track and refresh or solidify skills. Relapse is real. Make sure you and your loved one define what relapse looks like – before it happens – and what your plan is as a family to ensure everyone stays safe and healthy. A WRAP Plan is a great tool for individuals and their families to document those expectations and plans. Learn more about WRAP here>