Mental Illness and the Family
Mental illness not only affects the individual but also affects the family. A recent U.S. News Report indicates that statistics from Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Health, show close to 20% of Americans have some type of mental health issue in their lives, with the most prevalent being anxiety, followed by depression. Additionally, and even more troubling, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show an increase in major depression in the 12-17 age group by 52% over the period from 2009 to 2017. What do these numbers mean for the family? It means that while there are 20% of Americans dealing with some form of mental illness, the effect is felt by all at home. Many families are spending more time in the caretaker role, making family support a vital part of a successful recovery.
What is family support in treatment?
As a family member, it is natural to feel a range of emotions when your loved one has a mental illness. Acceptance takes time for everyone, and you must be patient with yourself and others. Supporting your loved one is important but learning more about the disorder and what to expect will make it easier for you to understand the recovery.
Seeking help and entering treatment is a learning experience for everyone. At Pasadena Villa, psychiatric treatment is aimed to not only assist the resident to achieve a full, meaningful life, but also to provide family members with support, education, and relief as they continue their journey of loving someone with a chronic mental illness.
Families can be an invaluable resource for someone who has a mental illness, and there are a few ways to remain active in the treatment process.
- Learn about mental illness. One of the most important things you can do as a family is to educate yourself about your loved one’s mental illness. The more you know gives you a better understanding and insight. Early in the treatment process, families are often in need of information, and need to know the correct diagnosis, how to be helpful, and the outlook for the future. At Pasadena Villa, both the primary therapist and the treating psychiatrist are actively involved not only with the resident but also with their loved ones. The early process focuses on giving families information about the diagnosis, medication stabilization, and making recommendations for a course of treatment.
- Show interest in the treatment process. As treatment progresses, families are involved in family therapy sessions with their loved ones to begin to repair strained relationships because of mental illness. Engaging in open and honest communication can help you set a realistic expectation and understand how your loved one is feeling. Pasadena Villa welcomes family involvement in the treatment process, and the treatment team makes every effort to provide the family updates and education on their loved one’s diagnosis. We offer family therapy sessions (as often as is recommended by the treatment team with input from the resident and family members) through telephone, in-person, and video conferencing.
- Work together to develop a plan. Towards the end of the treatment process, the therapist and psychiatrist partner with the family and resident to give a clear roadmap for the next phase. Information for ongoing providers is given to ensure that the gains made during treatment are sustained well after discharge.
Relating to someone with a mental illness is difficult, but you know there is more to your loved one than their mental illness. Learning more and becoming involved in the treatment process is a reminder that you are there to help and not giving up.
You are not alone.
You may be focused on taking care of your loved one, but it is equally important to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally. The continuous demands can be stressful, and family caregivers have an increased risk for depression and increased use of alcohol and drugs. Recognize and identify the sources of increased stress. When you understand the trigger for stress, you can find simple stress reducers that can help give you back a sense of control. It can be as easy as going for a walk, gardening, or meditating. Additionally, remain committed to your doctor appointments and engage in activities that help you feel healthy. Remember, you can’t do everything by yourself, and support is available.
You are not alone; Pasadena Villa offers hope to families and individuals. We offer evidence-based treatment that can help your loved one find a path toward living a happier life. Our treatment process is firmly rooted in social integration, which provides real-life experiences and coaching in real-time. Our goal is to prepare residents for a life outside of treatment. For more information, call us or complete our contact form.