Trying to make sense of your experience of mental illness can be hard. Many people find they understand more about it over time.

Finding information

Early in your recovery you may be able to find lots of information to help you learn about different definitions, diagnoses, symptoms and treatments for mental illness. (See below).

At this point in time it can also be helpful to talk with family members to learn about what they notice and experience. Talking to a mental health professional may be a good way to learn more about your mental illness and your recovery too.

The internet offers a huge amount of information to help you educate yourself. Some good websites include:

Learning from peers

Many parents who have have experienced mental illness have found it helpful talking with fellow ‘travellers’ on the road to recovery, about how they have made sense of their experiences.

You might know some people who are going through what you are and that you feel comfortable talking with. Alternatively, there are a number of online forums and services that enable you to get in touch with others who are in the same situation as you. Some examples in Australia include:

  • SANE lived experience forums – a place where people with a lived experience of mental illness, their family, friends, or other carers of people with a mental illness can communicate online.
  • beyondblue online forums – a place where people can share their experiences of depression, anxiety or related disorders online.
  • MI Networks – a phone service that connects you to local information and services specific to your needs, making them easier to find and access.

Your family’s understanding

A potentially powerful and healing process for you, your children and family is to create safe opportunities to talk and learn about each other’s understanding and experience of mental illness and recovery. This can help families to make sense of changes that they observe in you when you’re unwell and to know that they’re not at fault or responsible for them.

It can also be helpful for you to understand what your children and family experience and how they make sense of your mental illness. This can provide you with new insights as well as the opportunity to challenge any misunderstandings. Many parents report on how healing this process can be for everyone involved.

Download Free COPMI Resources

For use by families where a parent has a mental illness, their supporters, and services who work with them.