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Source: Wokandapix/Pixabay

I get heartbreaking messages every week. Parents email me because they desperately want to help their adult child who has a mental illness, but refuses help. A teacher who’s struggling with bipolar disorder but doesn’t know where to turn. A manager sees one of his employees grappling with anxiety and depression and wants to know how to best handle the situation.

This is all excellent. I don’t mean it’s good people are suffering. But it’s good people are reaching out for help more. The shame and stigma of mental illness is still present to be sure, but it is diminishing, if only because the pain people are no longer willing to endure.

I’m not a therapist or doctor, but I am an expert by experience. Over the course of the past 20 odd years (and trust me, some years were really odd), I’ve learned to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder, anxiety, psychosis and recovered from disordered eating.

Over time, I’ve gathered of list of trusted resources. They have been a crucial part of my wellness journey. It’s important to me that you have the same tools to lean on and have some next steps to follow to help you on YOUR way.

There are thousands of mental health websites and resources available. These are the ones I use and rely on most. Some are region specific, many are not. Not all will be applicable to your particular situation. Some are for loved ones searching for effective ways to support their family members. Others are for individuals living with a mental health issue who want to find guidance to build a better life. I encourage you to explore and then reach out to the organizations or people listed below that fit your needs. Click here to download a pdf of this resource list. In addition, you may want to read my post "How to Find Help When the Person You Love has Mental Illness" to learn concrete strategies to navigate the monstrosity that is our broken mental health system.

1. Recommended mental health websites, organizations and support groups These websites and affiliated local support groups are rich in resources and experience. Try more than one support group. The first one you try may not be the right fit for you.

I can tell you from personal experience, support groups give me much needed hope, motivation and information. Having a chance to talk and listen with people who have been where you have can be incredibly helpful.

Canadian Mental Health Association (branches located all across Canada)

Mental Health America (branches located all across the US, parts of Canada)

Mood Disorders Society of Canada

National Alliance on Mental Illness (branches located across the US, parts of Canada)

Anxiety BC

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Schizophrenia Society of Canada (branches across Canada; some services are applicable for all mental illnesses)

2. Finding good health professionals in your area Find a support group and attend a meeting. While there don’t be shy about asking for referrals to good counselors. Word of mouth is the best testament of a health professional. Or call one of the above organizations and ask who, what clinic or what steps they would recommend in order to find the appropriate clinician.

Mental Health America has a very good page with lots of tips and links about finding a health provider 

3. Chatrooms and on-line communities If you’re not comfortable or unable to attend a support group many of the above websites have chatrooms and on-line communities where you can get great suggestions.

4. Dr. Lloyd Sederer’s TEDxAlbany talk ‘When mental illness enters the family’ This TedX talk offers excellent tips for parents, loved ones and others when supporting someone who is struggling with mental health issues but isn't able to see they need help. Best info starts at 7 mins. 50 seconds.

In addition to his talk, he has a widely praised book “The Family Guide to Mental Health Care: Advice on Helping Your Loved Ones”.

5. Dr. Xavier Amador has a great book I don’t need Help, I’m Not Sick”.  He created the LEAP program which gives family members tools to help someone in ‘denial’ of mental illness accept treatment, but is also designed help people in general resolve conflict and communicate effectively. http://dramador.com/the-leap-institute/  + http://leapinstitute.org/wpadmin/ 

Check Dr. Amador's referrals page for clinicians who work with his method.

6. Julie Fast (coaching service + book) www.juliefast.com/family-coaching and her book ‘Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder’. Julie is a woman who has bipolar disorder herself and is an expert in helping families and partners of those with bipolar disorder. Her books are extremely popular and well respected.

7. Bipolar Caregivers http://www.bipolarcaregivers.org Although specifically for those who have a loved one with bipolar disorder, the strategies and tips offered are very helpful for anyone supporting a person with mental illness.

8. My blog post ‘4 Steps to Help Someone When They Don't Want It (you may have already ready it) offers concrete suggestions, resources and links to two other posts about helping your adult child.    

9. 7 Cups of Tea is a way to speak to someone on-line for support.  Free, anonymous and confidential. https://www.7cups.com/forum/ 

10. Mental Health America http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/  Click their ‘Find Help’ icon on their menu bar and look at the dropdown box. They have links to pages with excellent strategies and tools if you’re looking for help for yourself or for someone else.

11. International Bipolar Foundation http://www.ibpf.org/   Excellent website with information that can apply to conditions beyond bipolar disorder. Their archived video section is particularly good, http://www.ibpf.org/articles/educational-videos  This page has their resources for those who have a loved one with bipolar disorder: http://www.ibpf.org/i-care-someone-bipolar-disorder  

12. BD Wellness Centre http://www.bdwellness.com Full disclosure: I’m part of the research team that helped create this. This website has great evidence based resources and tools for those living with bipolar disorder.

Especially good is a free tool that assesses quality of life that can be used as a discussion piece with healthcare providers or team and help guide next steps in treatment and wellness plans.

13. Mental Health First Aid http://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.ca/en Effective programs that teach how to respond when someone is in a mental health crisis or developing a mental health issue. Courses are available across the country. USA: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/ and Australia: https://mhfa.com.au/

14. Not Myself Today www.NotMyselfToday.ca A well respected fee based program for employers to help create mentally healthy workplaces. It’s an evidence-informed, practical solution focused on building understand, reducing stigma and fostering supportive work cultures.

15. Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/media/550657/resource4.pdf A free download about how to support staff who are experiencing a mental health problem. Visit www.mind.org.uk to find other good resources.

16. bpHope website and bp magazine. Excellent articles, on-line community that provides practical tips, tools and hope. Though focused on bipolar disorder, again check it out as some info can apply to others conditions.

17. Mental Health Commission of Canada The commission develops and disseminates Canadian mental health programs and resources. Of particular interest may be their webinars that range from recovery topics to workplace issues. Even if you are based in a country other than Canada, much of the information will still be applicable https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/webinars

18. If there’s a crisis please remember your first step is to call 911 or visit your nearest emergency department. Or contact your local crisis centre. You can find a list of numbers here: http://www.bdwellness.com/help/crisis  

I hope these resources offer you some guidance and hope on this journey. If you know of another excellent resource, please email me and let me know.

© Victoria Maxwell www.victoriamaxwell.com

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