The Emotional Toll Mental Illness Can Have On Families

Posted By: on December 05, 2019
mother holding depressed son

While we often think about the individual who is suffering from a mental illness, we sometimes forget about the effect it can have upon those around the sufferer, especially their family. Living with a person who has a mental health concern can sometimes challenge those in the household and can lead to conflict.

One way to reduce the emotional toll that mental illness can take upon families is to have every concerned party be involved in the healing process together, and counseling can be a great place to start. The therapist/counsellor will teach all family members how to support each other and communicate effectively so that conflict can be avoided, and of course will help all parties to understand mental health better.

Taking care of everyone involved:

Research has shown that those who spend a significant amount of time caring for someone close to them with a mental health condition, are at a higher risk of becoming depressed and anxious themselves, so therapy can be very helpful for everyone who might be affected.

How might you be feeling if someone in the family is mentally unwell?

Some of the normal emotions you might experience if a family member has a mental health concern range from guilt, sadness, fear and even anger, and if left unchecked, such emotions can become detrimental to both you and the person who is ill. However, the more you work together with a counselor, the better you will cope with your own emotions and you’ll have a much better idea of how you can help each other too.

What more can you do to take care of yourself as a carer or concerned family member?

There’s an old adage of not being able to help someone else if you can’t help yourself. Over burdening yourself and taking on too much can make matters harder for everyone involved, so try to take some time to do the things that give you pleasure and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I giving myself enough breaks from caring? Do I take enough time to relax?
  • Am I getting enough exercise? Am I eating well? Do I get enough sleep?
  • Is there someone I trust whom I can talk to?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, readdress your situation and ensure that your commitments to your loved one are in harmony with your own needs.

Families should unite in times of hardship, pain and suffering but sadly, the opposite is sometimes the case. However, if you’re determined to see your family pull together in a time of struggle, encourage all members to seek some form of professional therapy and you’ll be amazed at the difference it can make.

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