HAVING someone in the family with mental illness can be extremely sad and painful, both to the person who has the disease and the family members. Often, it has ripple psychosocial issues to the family. These challenges are magnified by the stigma attached to the illness.
Confronting these issues would need a collaborative approach from the healthcare providers and the government to address the needs of family members caring for the mentally ill.
Learn the basics in helping and giving love. It is difficult to give care when one does not fully understand the illness. It is also important to increase public information about mental illness. Because of wrong information, people with mental illness tend to get isolated from other people. This gives them the impression that they are harmful and not accepted in society.
Be open to getting the right help. People with mental illness should not be locked in their rooms or houses. The family needs to accept that they might deal with the instability or unpredictability that the disease might bring. Choosing to hide and not to consult a healthcare provider might not control the symptoms that medicines and other treatments can help.
Mind your health too as you care for the sick in the family. Mental illness can cause dramatic changes in family life and routines. Taking turns when caring for a family member with a condition is not easy.
Others are forced to resign from their jobs or give up recreational activities. Some will have financial issues due to the need for admission to a mental health center as recommended by the doctor. Not to mention the added expenses to expensive medicines. In the midst of all these, it is vital that you, as the caretaker, also take good care of yourself.
Family members should be a part of the therapy, too. Professionals and society, in general, must give attention to the mentally-ill family members. Some may even feel self-blame, anger, guilt, or an outcast, too, due to shame. Unfortunately, family members are mostly forgotten or not included in the care plan when the whole family may be affected. Family members must have an accepting and positive attitude, maintaining realistic expectations for a family member with the disease. Family therapy can be helpful.
Unaddressed mental health care needs and issues of those suffering from mental illness and family members need to be given utmost importance. Several studies have shown that the help available for the family members is primarily focused on reducing psychological distress. But the impact is multidimensional and needs multidimensional solutions.
Yes, I advocate for mental health, and I fight for my client’s health rights. And their families are my clients too. But I feel that there is a need also to emphasize the mental health of the family members. It is essential to identify their needs and create programs that will best help them have rich and fulfilling lives. They need to know about the available sources of assistance, such as free mental health support groups or family-led programs.
They need a safe space to express emotionally taxing and exhausting emotions rising from such lonely and difficult circumstances.