Supporting someone with a mental illness and/or substance use is not easy, and may require learning new communication skills and coping strategies that will make you feel more empowered and effective in your supportive role.

In this section, you will hear from those who are living with the illness or substance use and about what was helpful for them when being supported by their family and/or friends. You will also learn about community reinforcement and family training (CRAFT), a model which teaches communication and coping skills to families and friends who are supporting a loved one with substance use.

  • Supporting a friend or family member with a mental illness - HeretoHelp

    This fact sheet provides an overview on how best to support someone with a mental illness, what to look out for and what to do when you are noticing that someone is struggling with their mental health. The tips are also relevant for someone supporting a loved one who uses substances.

    HeretoHelp is a project of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Substance Use Information. BC Partners work is funded by BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority.

  • Helping a friend you're worried about - HeretoHelp

    This brief article talks about how to support someone who you believe may be struggling with their mental health, how to approach your loved one and suggestions for how to follow up.

    HeretoHelp is a project of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Substance Use Information. BC Partners' work is funded by BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority.

  • Community reinforcement and family training (CRAFT)

    CRAFT is an evidence-based, therapeutic approach, which teaches families and friends supporting a loved one with substance use communication skills on how to engage in conversations that will help motivate your loved one to consider engaging in treatment.

    Read a five-page fact sheet explaining what the CRAFT model is and how it can help you as a support person. The fact sheet is a Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction publication.

    Training for CRAFT is offered through the Robert J. Meyers website.

  • How to support someone who is hearing voices - Katie Conibear

    Learn what you can do to support someone through their experience of hearing voices.

Video and voice recordings

  • Five ways to support a loved one's mental health

    This six-minute video of a person with lived experience shares what was helpful for her from her circle of support.

  • Five tips for supporting a loved one

    This five-minute video, created in cartoon format, provides five tips for what to do when you notice signs/symptoms of a loved one who may be struggling with mental illness.

    The video is one of many video series created by Psych Hub, a mental health education platform.

  • Webinar on family-centred care - Families for Addiction Recovery

    This 50-minute video is a recording of an online presentation about the importance of family-centred care in the treatment of substance use disorders. It explains the Invitation to Change Approach, components of the CRAFT model and identifies ways families can support their loved one's journey of recovery.

    The video was sponsored by Families for Addiction Recovery.

Free webinars

  • Family-to-family education course – Pathways: Families Helping Families / Serious Mental Illness Society

    The family-to-family education course is from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI is the largest grassroots mental health organization in the United States. The course is licensed and adapted for use in British Columbia. It is a designated evidence-based program.

    In this eight-week course, you will learn about different mental illnesses and how to best find the resources you are seeking within the B.C. mental health system. In addition, you will develop a range of practical communication and problem-solving skills to help you better care for your loved one and yourself.

  • Canadian Mental Health Association courses - Discovery College Kelowna

    Discovery College (operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna branch) welcomes anyone and everyone to attend their free courses that support people to feel confident in facing life’s challenges.

    They take an educational approach to promote people’s well-being through learning to remain present, developing healthy boundaries, practicing self-care and more. They focus on supporting, not fixing, people.

    All of their courses are created and delivered in collaboration with people who have personal experience from their wellness journey. This allows them to combine credible knowledge with practical tools in an empowering learning environment.