A Family Affair: Tackling Mental Health Issues as a Family
By Marie Miguel
Mental health as a whole is a hot topic of conversation. From anxiety to depression and more, mental health has increasingly been studied for its ties to family members. While work has largely focused on genetics, new research has suggested that the environmental behavior of family members plays a powerful role in mental health—a role that may even rival the role of genetics.
The Role of Family in Mental Health
Family actually plays a substantial role in both improving and deteriorating mental health. Increasing studies have determined that family members play a far more important role in mental health than was previously thought. Although genetics certainly have a hand in determining the likelihood of presenting with any mental health condition, it is actually the family environment that has been identified as an important factor in determining whether or not someone with a mental disorder or other condition is likely to experience relief from symptoms, or a worsening of them.
So how can families help with mental illness? Fortunately, the answer is not quite as difficult or complex as you might think.
Tackling Mental Health as a Family
There is no denying that a family member can have a very real and very negative effect on the mental health of another member, but the same is also true of positive effects. To tackle mental health as a family, there are some basic steps that must be taken, and each of those steps must be taken with a healthy dose of support, encouragement, and love. On to step one.
Step 1: Seeking Help
Seeking help is typically regarded as the most difficult part of taking on mental illnesses, because it requires making a first step—a first step that can feel impossible in the face of a mental illness or condition. Family members can make a significant difference in this, as the support of a family member can either encourage someone to or dissuade someone from actually seeking help from a mental health professional.
Encouragement to seek help will likely look different for every family. A simple way to start is to encourage or assist a family member in taking an online test, such as those provided by Mind Diagnostics. From there, family members might feel more comfortable asking for help from a dedicated therapist or counselor.
Step 2: Ongoing Maintenance
Although seeking help is of paramount importance, it is not the be-all or end-all of helping with a mental health condition. Instead, management is typically considered the most significant period of time used to sort through any and all issues associated with deteriorating or damaged mental health.
Ongoing maintenance will look different for every person and every family. Some ongoing maintenance involves tending to a consistent medication regimen. Other ongoing maintenance involves regular appointments with a mental health professional. Regardless of the exact method, ongoing maintenance for mental health requires familial support and encouragement in order to be successful.
The final and most significant way that families assist with mental health is this: continuing support. Managing symptoms of any mental disorder can require years of therapy and medication, and the commitment of a long-term treatment plan is often highly dependent upon the support and encouragement of the people closest to the individual. If family members continue to act as sources of support, patient outcomes are that much more likely to prove successful.
Family’s Role in Tackling Mental Health
Whether your family is delivered by genetics or is hand-selected, family is vital in taking on mental health by managing and improving symptoms—and sorting through the root causes of the mental health issue/s in question. A supportive family can quite literally mean the difference between successfully completing a mental health treatment regimen and foregoing treatment altogether. Ultimately, tackling mental health together as a family means just that: tackling mental health together, by offering support, encouragement, and accountability for all family members, and never downplaying the value of seeking treatment and following standard treatment protocols.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with Mind-Diagnostics.org. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.