I am in desperate need of guidance! I am primarily my mothers only support system when it comes to family or friends. My only brother also suffers from great depression as does my mothers only sister. In addition, my mothers parents have both past away in prior years and she is twice divorced. She does her best to provide for herself financially and mentally but she continues to digress farther and farther in both areas. There is a long line of history that has contributed to my mother’s depression. Divorce (she withstood a lot of mental abuse over the years prior to being divorced), deaths, finances, and depressed close family members are all contributors. One major key factor that has kept things in a downward motion recently has been her lack of being able to obtain work. Her last employer treated her very poorly. She was forced to leave her job due to both health and mental abuse. (Yes, her and some coworkers and filed against the company in response. A fellow friend/coworker has suffered permanent health problems as a result of this company. My mom was afraid the same would happen to her so she left.) It has been 2 years since she has last worked, and she has not been able to land a basic job. I know her age (she is 60yr) does not help, and she is somewhat limited to basic types of jobs after being a stay-at-home mom for many years. Without work she has done her best to budget her only income (rent from her mother’s home). As a result she continues to eat a poor diet, doesn’t have health insurance (which I know now is illegal but the fine is cheaper than the insurance), and is barely hanging on to her assets. This past month she has officially hit negative on her account and I am extremely worried! My husband and I do not have the income to support her as we are just getting by ourselves. I don’t know where to turn or how to help her. Help (both mental and physical) costs money, but she doesn’t have money. I have learned to cope with my mom having depression and can deal with the hurtful words, the not wanting to go out moods, the negative talk, etc. I used to think “This will pass/over time things will improve”. But if my mom can’t support her own basic needs I can’t see how to help her turn things around! Please, any advice you have to offer would be appreciated! We need help and I don’t really know where else to turn.      

A: Thanks for writing in with your question. To best help your mother you need to educate yourself on what she may be eligible for and what resources are available. Based on the severity and lengthy history of her depression, she may qualify for disability, which would provide insurance coverage as well as supplemental income. Here is a link to find more information: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/PG118.htm

In the meantime, she should be able to get treatment at her local community mental health center. They may be able to help navigate getting connected to other resources in her community as well. http://www.up2riverside.org/find-help/resources/mental-health-local-resources

Finally, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is an organization that could help both of you find information to help with her situation. It can be taxing to care about someone who suffers so much and it can be the difficult to navigate boundaries sometimes. I hope that her health and situation improves so that you can enjoy your relationship, in addition to being her support system.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts