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Try to separate out managing your own emotions and stress, and practical support for you, from things that are about helping your friend or relative. Make sure you take time for yourself otherwise you will struggle to support your relative or friend.

Keeping calm and making time for yourself– Different people find different things help them to relax and switch off. Here are a few suggestions. You could try having a relaxing bath, watching a good film, going for a walk, run or swim, going to the gym, playing sport, reading a book, meditation, relaxation techniques [try a relaxation technique here], going out with friends, going shopping, listening to music, listening to the radio. Whatever works best for you, make sure that you have time for yourself to relax and do the things that you enjoy. This will benefit your friend or relative as you won’t be able to support them if you’re struggling yourself.

Practical support – Supporting a young person with mental health problems such as psychosis, can have quite an impact on practical things like, money, housing, work and space where you live if your friend/relative comes to live with you or stays more often. You can get advice on practical issues from the early intervention service, but also from other places such as the citizen’s advice bureau. You can also ask for a carers’ assessment through the NHS or EIP service to support your own needs.

Family work – If there are tensions and stress within the family or the place where you live that are linked to your relative or friends mental health, you may be able get some specific family intervention work to help reduce this. This will help the whole family and can also reduce the risk that your relative (or friend) becomes less well again.

Managing the impact on your own stress and mental health – It’s not uncommon for the stress of mental health problems and psychosis to impact on relatives and friends. Do make sure you get the support you need for yourself. Support might be informal from your own friends and family. Talk to the people around you who you trust. Find out about local carers support groups, that may be available through the NHS, the EIP service or through other organisations such as rethink or mind. If you are worried about your own mental health you might find some of the self-help materials useful, for things like managing sleep, low mood, worry and anxiety. You can also access support for your own mental health by visiting your local GP practice. 

The EYE Project is a research project supported by:

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Swandean, Arundel Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN13 3EP