The Importance of Mental Health Support for Your Family
Mental health support is essential for anyone with a mental illness, but it is also important for the family of patients in treatment to get support. This benefits the patient, resulting in better outcomes from treatment. It also benefits the family as a whole, with better communication and strengthened relationships, and it helps individuals by improving mental health. Family can get involved directly in treatment, participating in education programs, family therapy, and group support, but they can also benefit from seeking individual mental health care.
Having a loved one in treatment for mental illness can be a stressful time for your family. You are worried about your family member, but you have also all been impacted by their behaviors and struggles. Now is the time to support the one you care about in residential treatment but to also get good mental health support for you and the rest of your family. This will help you all learn more about your loved one’s illness, how treatment is helping, and how you can establish more positive, healthier relationships.
Family Is Important for Recovery
One of the most important reasons that your family needs to consider being involved in treatment and getting their own mental health support is that it supports the healthy recovery of your loved one. Family members are essential components in the process of healing, because mental illness is not just a condition of an individual; it is a family illness that impacts everyone. Here are some of the ways that your own good mental health and involvement in treatment will benefit your loved one:
- Provide information and guide decisions. A good treatment facility will involve the family in order to learn more about the patient and to guide treatment choices. While the experts will be able to make the best final decisions about care, they are guided by individual patients’ needs, histories, limitations, and strengths. You can be an important part of providing the important information they need to help make better choices for an effective treatment plan.
- Learning about mental illness. The entire family needs to learn about the illness that is impacting them. Involvement in care will give you this opportunity. By learning more about mental illness, you will be better equipped to support your loved one, communicate with them, and provide practical guidance once they are out of treatment. Your loved one will get better, more effective support when you are more informed.
- Better outcomes for the patient. Research indicates that when there is collaboration—between the patient, caregivers, and family—the outcomes for the patient are better. Quality of life improves and the effectiveness of treatment is longer lasting. One reason that outcomes improve with family involvement is that having that support keeps patients in treatment longer and keeps them more engaged in care. Without family support more people drop out early or fail to fully engage in their treatment plan.
- Be better able to provide support. If you are barely hanging on yourself, you will be of no help to your loved one. Your own mental health is important for your well-being but also for your ability to help a family member who is struggling. When you work on the good mental health of the entire family, you will be in a better collective position to help each other through this time and in the future as any other mental health issues arise.
Getting Involved in Treatment Supports Family Mental Health
Being involved in your loved one’s treatment program is important for their wellness and outcomes, but it also improves the mental health of individual family members and the family as a unit. One study investigated treatment programs with and without family psychoeducation—a program of education, learning coping skills, and improving communication and relationships.
The study found that the involvement of family was beneficial for patients, resulting in a 75 percent decrease in re-hospitalizations. But it also found that the family benefited. There was a 50 percent reduction in the number of doctor visits for family members within one year of the treatment and psychoeducation.
The mental health of each family member has likely been impacted by the mental illness of one individual. Having a loved one in treatment can also trigger things like anxiety, fear, stress, and depression. By getting involved in care, you can benefit and get relief from your own mental health symptoms. There are several ways that you can participate in your loved one’s treatment:
- Join family therapy when offered. Family therapy is a type of counseling that involves two or more family members to address mental health issues, communication problems, and difficulties in family dynamics and relationships. Family therapy will help you find and use healthy coping strategies, practice good communication, and deepen connections with each other.
- Participate in education programs. Your loved one’s treatment facility may offer programs specifically for the families, often called psychoeducation. These will give you a chance to learn more about your loved one’s illness, how to cope for your own good mental health, and how to actively support your loved one during and after treatment.
- Visit on family days. Many facilities also offer less formal family days or visiting times when you can come and spend relaxed time with your loved one. This will help you maintain your relationship and learn more about what your loved one is doing and learning in treatment.
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Seeking Individual Mental Health Care
For some family members, participating in treatment and getting involved in group sessions and education programming may not be enough for good mental health. You or other members of your family may need individualized care. You may be facing your own mental illness or substance abuse, or you may simply be struggling to cope with the present situation.
Consider seeking out therapy sessions to help you manage your own symptoms and learn and practice healthy coping strategies for negative emotions and behaviors. Another option is to join a support group. You should be able to find one in your area, and your loved one’s treatment facility may even have a group you can join or can recommend one. A support group is a great way to benefit from shared experiences and to have a shared sense of community with people who understand your situation.
Good mental health is not just for a patient in treatment—it is essential for the entire family. Mental illnesses are family diseases in that the family contributes to them and all individuals are impacted by them. You are in this together, and your participation in your loved one’s treatment and in your own mental health care supports you, your family, and the patient in care. Together you will be stronger and have better outcomes if everyone’s mental health is considered and supported.
If you’re concerned about a loved one and believe they may need residential care, we can help. BrightQuest offers long-term treatment for people struggling with schizoaffective disorders, schizophrenia, and severe bipolar as well as co-occurring substance use disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned program and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.