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A family representative helps and supports family, friends and others around people struggling with psychological problems. They mostly get involved when people are (going to be) under treatment.

What the family representative can offer

When someone in your circle is struggling with mental health issues or addiction, this often has a huge impact on their family and friends. A family  representative (FR) can offer support by providing information, listen to your worries and give practical advice. The FR’s main responsibility is to ensure a smooth cooperation between client, care workers and relatives / friends. Additionally, the FR is also there to represent and strengthen the position of family and friends.

Getting a family representative involved

Most mental healthcare organisations have their own FR working for them, although this is different from country to country. Getting into contact with an FR is mostly free and possible without a reference from a GP. Neither does the client or his healthcare department need to give permission.

Confidential and impartial

Talks with an FR are confidential and the subjects discussed may not be shared with others without explicit permission. The FR also works independently of his mental healthcare organisation.


Prof. dr. Jim van OsChair Division Neuroscience, Utrecht University Medical Centre. Jim is also Visiting Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. Jim works at the interface of ‘hard’ brain science, health services research, art and subjective experiences of people with ‘lived experience’ in mental healthcare. 

Jim has been appearing on the Thomson-Reuter Web of Science list of ‘most influential scientific minds of our time’ since 2014. In 2014 he published his book ‘Beyond DSM-5‘, and in 2016 the book ‘Good Mental Health Care’. 

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