My wife saved my life after attempted suicide - advice on mental illness support

Families need to understand that mental illness is a life-long struggle, says psychologist Cassandra Govender.

Govender explains that mental illness can affect the person suffering from it, as well as their loved ones who want to be there for them.

She says that it is important for family and friends to provide support once they have identified when there may be a problem where there are signs of poor mental well-being.

She advises that loved ones approach the individual to find out more about what they are experiencing and how they can help.

Here are some of her tips:

  • broach the subject with sensitivity and care
  • keep the conversation open and allow them to speak. Listening is key.
  • do not diagnose them
  • seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist
  • consider family therapy sessions to address all the emotions that need to be processed

You want to open the conversation gently and say; "I've noticed something... I'm here. What's going on? Let's talk."

Cassandra Govender, Registered Clinical Psychologist

The last thing they want to do is talk about it because of the shame associated with not coping in society.

Cassandra Govender, Registered Clinical Psychologist

Don't tell them what is going on with their life. You want to hear them put it into words.

Cassandra Govender, Registered Clinical Psychologist

Listeners called in to share their personal experiences with mental health struggles that are close to home:

On the 7th of January I tried to commit suicide. It was not planned... My wife played such an important role in my recovery. It was such a traumatic time for her. I tried to hang myself in the garage. My wife still struggles with anxiety.

Andrew, caller

My wife was diagnosed with bipolar four years ago. She survived several suicide attempts. She's been admitted to a psychiatric clinic and it has been difficult for me and my kids.

Tshepo, caller

I am bipolar and I find that there is a major affect on my family, although they try help. It can destroy your relationship with your kids.

Rose, caller

A year ago, my wife committed suicide and shot herself... My daughter is taking strain after walking in on this.

Paul, caller

Listen to the discussion on The Eusebius McKaiser Show:


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