The worldwide pandemic has disrupted our lives, caused grief and worry, and brought even more hardship to people already struggling with economic, educational, societal, and physical and mental health challenges. More people than usual are living with anxiety or depression and, sadly, the suicide rate is increasing. We want you to know, believe, and embrace the fact that you have the power to help someone who is affected by a mood disorder. Social distancing does not have to mean emotional distancing or loneliness. You can be caring in the time of COVID-19.
Our resources and strategies for helping a loved one – and yourself – are equally valid during the pandemic as any other time. Whether a person is accessing mental health services for the first time, having a recurrence, or continuing treatment, you can help with emotional support, finding care, utilizing insurance, providing logistical support, and “being there” for them, either in person or remotely.
One place to start is our blog post, “COVID-19: Supporting Yourself and Your Loved One.” There, we steer you toward finding ways to take care of yourself. Because mental health conditions impact the entire family, you need to have strategies that allow you to experience relief and recharge so that you can be a support for your loved ones for the long haul. Learn more about self-care, setting boundaries, and what you can do on the “Role of a Family Caregiver” page. You might also benefit from reading our “Boring But Necessary – Caregiver Self-Care” post.
If you don’t know much about depression, start with our educational materials about mood disorders. (However, if a person in your life is suicidal, get help immediately. Don’t leave them alone, even for a moment. Lock up firearms and make other potentially lethal items (medicines, household chemicals, knives, etc.) inaccessible. Call their mental health provider and ask for an immediate response. If they don’t have a provider or the provider can’t be reached, take them to the closest hospital emergency department. If these are not possible, call 9-1-1. You’ll find more information here.)
If you want to help but aren’t quite sure what to do, we have plenty of resources for you! In our “Help Someone” section, you can select the information most pertinent to your situation. (You can also choose from the pull-down menu in the top navigation.) When you’re more confident, you can watch the video about how to work with a Family Action Plan and download a template.
We have a free and anonymous Depression and Bipolar Test. After you take it, contact your mental health or medical provider (even your primary care provider can help!) and share the results. You can also take it to get a sense of whether someone you are concerned about might be living with a mood disorder.
Read family stories that inspire, watch webinars that provide strategies, and explore the wealth of free resources we offer. We know, with the right information, you can make a tremendous difference for a person living with depression or bipolar disorder.
If you’re not finding what you need, let us know. Your input helps us improve our content and develop new programs. (Please note: Families for Depression Awareness is not a crisis center and does not offer direct services. Instead, we provide education, guidance, and actionable advice that equips caregivers to help a loved one with depression or bipolar disorder.)