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Self Care

Book Resources

  • Brown, Brené, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You 

      Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

       Hazelden Publishing, 2010.

  • Copeland, Mary Ellen. Wellness Recovery Action Plan,

       Berkeley: Peach Press, 1997.

  • Corrigan, Patrick and Lundin, Robert. Don’t Call Me Nuts! –

       Coping with the Stigma of Mental Illness, Chicago: Recovery

       Press, 2001.

  • Guzman, Leah. Essential Art Therapy Exercises: Effective 

       Techniques to Manage Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD,

       Rockridge Press, 2020.

  • Lorenz, Theo. The Trans Self-Care Workbook: A Coloring Book and Journal for Trans and Non-Binary People, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2020. (LGBT)

  • National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). Peer-to-Peer Education Course.  Information about this program is online at

  • Neff, Kristin, and Germer, Christopher. The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive, Routledge 2018.

  • Singh, Anneliese.  The Queer and Transgender Resilience Workbook: Skills for Navigating Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression, New Harbinger, 2018. (LGBT and BIPOC)

  • Taylor, Sonya Renee. The Body is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love, Berrett-Koehler, 2021. (BIPOC)

  • Wahl, Otto F. Telling is Risky Business – Mental Health Consumers Confront Stigma, Rutgers University Press, 1999.

What Helps the Person with Mental Health Problems

Here are some suggestions for coping with their mental health problems collected from people who are living with them. As with any list, not every suggestion will work with every person.


Professional / Peer Help

  • Psychotherapy with a therapist trained to know how to discover and deal with psychological problem areas.

  • Effective medication in an effective dosage prescribed by a psychiatrist. If a medication isn’t working for you, work with your doctor to find another medication or therapy that works.

  • Join a peer support group.

  • Consider adding alternative therapies to your treatment plan. Ex: Acupuncture, Acupressure, Dance therapy, Art therapy, Music therapy, Tai Chi, Yoga…

  • Help someone else, especially someone with problems similar to yours.

  • Work with a counselor to identify and make progress toward career goals

  • Attend a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) group if there is one in your area.


Personal Care

  • Eat a good solid balanced diet.

  • Little or no caffeine

  • No alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and often interferes with medication.

  • Get plenty of rest. If you can’t sleep, ask your doctor for something to help you sleep.


Stress Management

  • Exercise. Elevate the heart rate for 15-30 minutes a day, with your doctor’s permission. Examples: walking, jogging, aerobics, swimming …

  • Avoid getting over-committed in time to any activities, so that you feel overwhelmed.


Emotional Self Awareness

  • Learn how to recognize warning signs of a coming episode of mental health trouble and take immediate action to head it off or minimize it. Involve your family so they can help you.

  • Do something to make you laugh, cry, or get angry in a safe place. Ex: watch a sad movie and cry.


Life Enrichment

  • Indulge in some creative activity. Ex: music, drawing, painting, crafts, creative writing, weaving

  • Take an adult school class: swimming, art, history …

  • Engage in volunteer work

  • Continue to be active with friends and make efforts to develop friendships

  • Seek out helpful relatives



  • Learn how to love yourself as an individual, spiritually and creatively. There is no one else on Earth quite like you.

  • Meditation. 15-60 minutes of quiet listening to your heartbeat and breathing. Caveat: This can be disturbing for people who are psychotic. If so, don’t use meditation, guided or silent.

* Disclaimer: These suggestions are not professional medical advice, just things that have worked for real people living with mental health difficulties and their families.

What Helps Family Members and Friends

Here are some suggestions collected from people who have loved ones with a mental health problem:

Professional / Peer Help

  • If someone is suicidal, get immediate attention for him or her. Call 911 if there’s an immediate danger.

  • Make sure that the person gets the help needed, for example, a therapist or a hospital stay. You may have to help make the appointment and go with him or her.

  • Get professional help for yourself to learn what your own responsibilities and capabilities are.

  • Join your own support group, formal or informal.


Learn about Mental Health 

  • Read and learn all you can about the mental disorder that your loved one has.

  • Be flexible and patient. Cures are rarely instantaneous.

  • Learn to recognize the signs of the mental disorder.


Communicate with your loved one

  • Tell the person that you love and care about him or her.

  • Visit him or her, especially if hospitalized. A smile, a flower, a picture or a short hug can make all the difference.

  • Avoid doing things that trigger the person’s disorder, ex: if the person become anxious or depressed when he or she is pressured to hurry, don’t try and rush things.


Help your loved one live with their mental health problem

  • Help the person to keep his or her days structured.

  • Support efforts to find the medicines and therapies that work best.

  • Monitor medicine intake.

  • Encourage physical exercise, good diet, plenty of sleep, creative activities, and sunlight.

  • Learn to recognize the warning signs that an episode is going to happen, and help your loved one to take action to head it off or minimize it.

  • Plan future activities for both of you to look forward to.

  • Maintain some kind of social activity with your loved one, such as going to the movies.

  • Make the best of the person’s good days. Drop the housework to enjoy time with your loved one.

  • Keep guns out of the house.


Have a life of your own.

  • If the depressed person needs monitoring or assistance, get help.

  • Plan future activities for yourself alone.

  • Live one day at a time.


* Disclaimer: These suggestions are not professional medical advice, just things that have worked for real people living with mental health problems and their families.

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