Throughout history, unfortunately, mankind has feared mental illness. In many cases, the reason was that we didn’t understand them. So when we are faced with a mental health problem in the family, we often don’t know how to deal with it.
People sought explanations (paranormal, scientific, or religious) and explored treatments designed to improve the lives of those affected by mental health problems… This is the story of our species’ survival. Humans have taken this upon themselves since we first faced mental health problems.
In the field of mental health, there is a specific susceptibility to serious or chronic disorders. This is the result of social stigmatization. With the closure of outdated institutions, these pathologies became more widely known. Currently there is some form of immobility in the steps to recovery (when healing is not possible).
The people for whom this situation is most difficult are the families with children, parents, aunts, uncles or siblings with problems beyond their comprehension or understanding.
The first shock when a mental health problem runs in the family
The patient’s family are the first people to experience discomfort and concern. So they are usually the first to notice that “something is wrong”. Because the family member suffers from changes in his behavior, emotions and thoughts.
Usually it starts in a very complicated way. The family members experience bewilderment and do not understand. They have to deal with changes in the diagnosis and again and again those conversations and examinations with the doctor.
In fact, it may even involve a partial denial of the situation. The family begins to see how their son, brother or father is suffering. They notice how their family member behaves in ways they could never imagine. And above all, they begin to witness how their lives fall apart little by little. It’s the same person, but not at the same time.
According to the World Health Organization, mental health refers to “the way an individual communicates with others in their family, at work, in their leisure time, and with their community in general.”
When a loved one loses his balance, we suffer. We deny it, question it, and blame ourselves. We often pull out all the stops in our search for solutions and alternatives.
Negative emotions are part of the process
It is not strange that at some point we feel anger, resentment and frustration. The family is the backbone of an individual with a mental health problem. The support, understanding, peace and balance provided by the family are essential.
Behind every person is a family history. It is a history made up of stages of recognized adaptation, in which all these thoughts and emotions are gathered.
We are talking about an alarm phase, a period of resistance and exhaustion. Depending on where we are, we will get some guidelines or other help to process what is happening.
So the mental health tools also include studying and applying the best ways to move forward with families. Or the families do this at least as far as they can. Unfortunately, this is very limited in some cases.
The most adapted solution is the confrontation with the mental health problem
All previous storms have uprooted the family, the beloved person and their friendships. Now comes the final and definitive diagnosis of the mental health problem. Moreover, the time has now come to face the issue and the upcoming changes in a calm manner.
- Rely on the support of experts: During your family member’s diagnostic process, you will get to know many healthcare professionals. Communication and answers to your questions are essential.
- Follow the guidelines: If your family member recovers, congratulate them and encourage them to continue the process. Do not allow him to drop the follow-up of the condition. You will always find an expert who will relieve your worries and doubts. It’s someone you can contact if you need help or have any questions. The road is long, but you must not falter.
- Change your dialogue: Adopting the idea that your loved one is not a “sick person” but that “he has a condition” or a mental health problem can help. Because maybe you’ll stop seeing him as the symptoms he has. In addition, you will be able to focus on the person you know.
Rest, the basis of recovery
The family is undoubtedly a fundamental element of stability and recovery. It is therefore important that you maintain a calm atmosphere at home and in their environment. Because this will directly help the success of the treatment and the therapy.
Motivation and the fight against despair and despondency draw energy from the emotional balance in the home situation. Still, the family’s need for relief is normal. So don’t put all these emotions on the shoulders of the family. On the contrary, use a suitable outlet for the main and accompanying emotions they feel.
Despite the difficulties, you should never forget that many people with mental health problems can function independently. They can work, have friends and be part of the family without a doubt. Therefore, it is important to learn about the condition and its processes. Moreover, if you continue to follow the appropriate and adapted treatment, it is quite possible that normality can be partially restored. This, of course, depends on the issue in question.