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How do I live with a mentally-ill parent?

152 Answers
Last Updated: 03/03/2022 at 12:45am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Stacy Overton, PhD.


I am an enthusiastic life-long learner and also a professor of counseling. I have a passion for peoples stories and helping to guide and empower the human spirit.

Top Rated Answers
July 6th, 2017 6:20pm
This is something I've lived with, and it can be challenging to say the least. The most important thing is to take care of yourself. Learn as much as you can about boundaries, for example. (The guide on 7 Cups is fantastic.) Know that your parent's behavior isn't your fault, ever. Remember the 3 C's: You didn't cause it, you can't cure it, you can't control it. Learn about your parent's mental illness with curiosity and compassion, so you will know what to expect and can still have a very loving relationship.
August 11th, 2016 4:54pm
patience is key, you need to tell yourself that it is just the mental illness talking. Mentally ill people usually get annoyed by arguing so if they want to do something they shouldn't use a distraction technique. Do something good for yourself to daily don't just think about other people take some time and go have a spa day. It is nice to have a caregiver to help you out and there is programs to help with cost. Don't take the blame for things they say and do because its just the illness. There is some great videos on youtube to help you feel more empathetic about what there going through just take some time and watch them. Its defiantly helpful and worth it.
June 28th, 2018 9:36am
By showing compassion, by remembering the good they did for you when they were in good health, by taking care of their needs.
June 23rd, 2016 4:03am
It will not be easy. You will need to know what triggers your parent and what steps you will need to take to prevent or deal if your parent is triggered.
June 23rd, 2016 4:34pm
How crucial. Live with them as if they would have lived with you if you were to born this way. Don't shout at them for their mistakes. Learn to accept them as they are. Just as a child. If he/she was okay just like you they wouldn't have made mistakes. For them they are no mistakes, leniency, laziness or fatigue, they do this because they don't know how to control themselves in a right way. Their consciousness fluctuates perhaps more than ours. Acceptance is the key my friend.
July 13th, 2016 11:31pm
Try as hard as possible to understand what they are going through. Maybe read about what their illness is so you can better understand them!
July 15th, 2016 4:56pm
You help them with there mental illness and try to be more supportive with them instead of getting upset it hard but keep strong
July 21st, 2016 4:43pm
Finding chat rooms or support groups can offer some help and reasurence. This can be a tricky situation so having someone who understands is always helpful
January 12th, 2017 2:32pm
Understand that they may not have total control over how they act and give them the space and time they need to collect themselves. If you ever find yourself at risk, remove yourself from the situation and wait for them to calm before approaching.
September 9th, 2017 4:52pm
Living with a mentally-ill parent is incredibly difficult and straining. It is important to provide whatever support you can, and encourage them to do what it is they need to do ( ie. take medications, attend therapy) to live a healthy and fullfiled life. However, in doing this it is important to also remember that the way they act and the things they say is not a reflection of who you are or your character. Although it is good and important to remain supportive, remember support is shown in several of ways and you should still be your first priority. If it is too hard on your well being, asking for help from doctors or other family members is always a good go-to. As well as filling your life with the things that makes you happy and keeps your life as your own!
November 4th, 2017 6:22pm
I live with one, and whenever it gets tough for me I imagine how their had been when they were my age or probably even younger. Full of ambition and hope. Their journey through life. The problems they have had to face. Their struggles. And then I ask myself if I can do anything to make it easier for them or help then. If the answer is yes, I just do.
August 8th, 2019 1:26pm
Living with a mentally ill parent can be very difficult depending on their mental health problem. However there is a lot of help available if you are struggling and it is important to ask for help should you feel you need it. There is no shame in asking for help just like there is no shame in being mentally ill. There are also a number of support groups with other people living with a mentally ill parent who you will be able to relate to. These groups are both online and in a physical presence. Also ensure you are taking time to yourself.
September 6th, 2019 9:40pm
Living with a mentally ill parent can be challenging. It’s important to see past their mental illness and love them no matter what. They love and care about you, even if their mental illness gets in the way sometimes. Try to learn as much about their illness as possible to be better equipped to handle living with them. Try to stay calm and considerate when dealing with them on tougher days. It will probably be beneficial to recommend that they see a doctor or therapist to help them with their mental illness. Above all else, just let them know that you care about them and love them, and that you’re there for them. Try to be empathetic and see things through their perspective.
June 23rd, 2016 1:35pm
Help them with their illness, if he/she is your partner is because you love them and care about them
July 7th, 2016 5:19pm
You try and support that parent as much as you possibly can- it can be hard and but a weight on yourself so you have to make sure to distance yourself if you're being put down too much
July 10th, 2016 9:22pm
You can try to understand that they're mentally ill. Read up on what they have. Try not to trigger them. Just be a decent daughter or son to them. You just need to be aware of what causes them to act out and not be the cause.
July 13th, 2016 4:53am
Try to sympathize with them. Look at ways online to know how to better live with them. You can even ask them what you can do for them.
July 15th, 2016 11:25am
You have to be VERY patient. And I don't mean, patient as in deal with it, you have to be committed-kind-of-patient. No matter what mental illness it is, you have to stay strong. It's not their fault they got sick. It's difficult to answer such a generic question, but you can message me with specific questions. I've dealt with people like that before. Best of luck!
July 16th, 2016 12:34pm
It's a really complicated situation and I'm sorry you have to go through this. I guess your priority should be to take care of yourself first, make sure their illness doesn't affect you too much and still allows you to grow up, feel safe and happy. You have to put yourself first and eventually find the strength to help your parent in their struggle.
July 20th, 2016 11:18pm
Living with a mentally ill parent can be challenging, i cant actually give you advice on this issue. But if you like to know how to combat this issue a trained therapist would be able to help.
July 28th, 2016 4:43am
The most important thing is to make sure your parent is getting the appropriate help they need, whether that's medication, therapy, full-time care with a professional caregiver, etc. This will make your life and your parent's life much more bearable. Next, make sure that you take time for yourself as well. You need to support your parent as much as possible, but make sure you're not getting burned out. Do things that you enjoy and take time away from your parent if need be.
July 28th, 2016 8:56am
Are you in any danger? Mental illness effects not only the person that has it but all around them that love them
July 31st, 2016 7:46pm
Living with a mentally ill parent probably has its struggles, but as long as you do your best with doing right by them and knowing that your help benefits them that may make it easier.
August 3rd, 2016 1:35am
Mentally-ill isn't something you can control. It's like cancer. You can't blame your parent for having it.
August 5th, 2016 6:49pm
Make sure that you have told either someone at your school will you talk to someone like on 7 cups he can give you advice and maybe get you some help
August 7th, 2016 11:41pm
Do your absolute best to support them, and never be afraid to ask for help if it becomes too much for you, as you must also look after your own health too.
August 10th, 2016 6:00am
You love them. You try to understand what they are going through, do research on whatever they have, even look at ways to try and cope with it for yourself and them. Even ask them about it to try and understand. But the most important part is to accept they have it, and to love them no matter what
August 10th, 2016 2:38pm
Read on the condition. Learn about the condition so you can understand how you can help. And be your parents hero.
August 24th, 2016 7:32pm
To make it easy for yourself.. Don't think them as your mentally-ill parent.... Do what you would have done if they were your children... Take care of them as you would have taken if it were your child... They deserve more love and care and that's it...
September 1st, 2016 7:29am
It all starts with yourself. Know your strengths, be strong. When you have a clear sight, you understand the situation of your parent. The one who made YOU. Get motivated. Search on the internet. Overthink, yes overthink untill your brain explodes. Sleep. The next day you wake up, you are stronger and that is a fact. Your parents are everything, help them through.. Even at your worst.