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Communicating Your Needs to Friends and Family after a Psychiatric Crisis

It may take some time for you to adjust and continue to recover after experiencing a psychiatric crisis, especially if you were hospitalized. Recovery is an ongoing process that takes time and patience.

While you recover after a crisis, you may need to communicate to your friends and family that you need a lot of rest. At this time, you may not be able to deal with their demands and expectations of you. They may think that now that the crisis is over, everything should be back to normal. It may be hard to convince them that you need rest to get your strength back and that this phase may last awhile.

Below is a letter you may wish to consider using to let your friends and family know what you need during this time. This is just guidance and you can certainly rewrite it to fit your circumstances and style.

Dear Friends and Family,

I am writing this letter to ask for your understanding, compassion and patience. We have all just come through a difficult time with my mental health condition. I realize that this has not been easy for you and you have likely struggled to deal with its effects while continuing to take care of yourself and others. It has not been easy for any of us. I have done the best I could and I know you have too. For this, I thank you.

As a result of this experience, I am now exhausted, physically and mentally. I may look all right on the outside, but inside I am still hurting. I need time to recuperate and recover. Please understand that even the least effort or stress is difficult for me right now. I need to sleep a lot, and not do much at all. I need this time to regain my strength and am not sure how long it will last.

It may be hard for you to see me this way. You may feel it is your duty to help me get over this. Please know that neither of these are true. Please be gentle with me. I need time to heal. I understand this has been difficult for you too, but I believe if we work together as a team, we can all heal and recover from this traumatic experience.

Here are a few things you can do to help me:

  • Learn about my mental health condition. This is a serious health condition, like diabetes or heart disease. It affects my ability to think, feel and the way I behave. Just like other physical conditions, it is not my fault. The effects of my condition may have been difficult for you as they were for me. Learning about my condition and sharing with others who may have experienced similar circumstances will help you understand what I am going through. 

  • Help me find effective treatment. This takes persistence and knowledge. In my present state, I may not have the energy to follow through myself. I may need you to advocate for me until we find the services and supports that work best for me.

  • Listen with an open heart and mind. Please try not to give me advice or tell me what I “should” or “shouldn’t” do. Just listen and love me while I work this out for myself. Your faith in me and your understanding during this time of recuperation will help me feel confident to decide when I am ready to take the first step toward rebuilding and moving into the next phase of recovery.

Thank you for your support; it makes all the difference in my journey of recovery.


With thanks and hope,



Adapted from NAMI Utah Progression 2009.