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How to Help Family With Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues impact millions of people across the world. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. have some type of mental health condition. So, it’s not uncommon for multiple family members to deal with different issues. However, living under one roof with various mental health struggles doesn’t mean you all have to suffer together.
Being close together as a family can actually help you all to work through your mental health struggles more effectively. You can help your loved one(s) cope with their condition and the symptoms that go along with it, and they can do the same for you.
Many mental health problems lead to loneliness and isolation, which can make matters worse. By working through your struggles as a family, you’ll have a built-in support system you can lean on. That’s really just the beginning of the benefits. If you’ve been reluctant to share your struggles with your family, now is a perfect time to open up and see how helpful working together can be. Let’s take a closer look at how you can combat your struggles together – both as individuals under one roof and as a family unit. Learn how to help family with mental health issues.
Support and Accountability
Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sadness
- Loss of interest
- Withdrawal from people and things you usually enjoy
- Mood swings
Depression can also contribute to a lack of motivation. You might find yourself feeling more fatigued than normal, or with a strong desire to stay in bed all day. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of depression can keep you from treating it or even seeking out help on your own. The same can be said for anxiety. If your symptoms are keeping you from getting help and making changes, you’re going to face an even greater uphill battle. These struggles rarely go away on their own, even if you’re motivated to try self-treating them.
But, if you have family members dealing with similar issues, you can commit to holding each other accountable. It’s not always easy to find motivation on your own, but family members can help you with things like making sure you get out of bed each day or reminding you to practice self-care. If your loved one seems to be struggling and you’re not sure what to do for them, you can also reach out to different family resources or mental health professionals to ensure they get the help they need.
If you’re trying to help an older person in your family, such as an aging parent or grandparent, living under the same roof is incredibly beneficial. Seniors are often more at risk for mental health disorders, and they may not be able to tap into the resources available to them on their own. Knowing you can provide help and support may end up boosting your mood, since you’re doing something kind and selfless for someone you care about. Focusing your efforts on someone you love is often a great distraction, and can take away from your anxiety.
Treating Different Triggers
No matter what each family member is struggling with, you can support each other by eliminating or reducing certain “triggers” in your household. If one person is dealing with trauma, you can get rid of anything in the house that could remind them of what they went through. If another person is depressed, you can make changes around the house, including bringing in more natural light and making the rooms brighter to boost their mood.
For many people, social media can be a trigger when it comes to anxiety. Some might have a fear of missing out on things, or they compare themselves to others and deal with low self-esteem. Other people look at the news and current events on social media and become overwhelmed with the state of the world. Showing solidarity with your family members and either giving up or reducing your social media use at home can make a big difference if it’s a triggering component for an anxious person in your house.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your family about the things that trigger their fears or worries. While those things will eventually need to be worked through, that’s better for a mental health professional to help with, rather than trying to face them on your own. Home needs to feel like a safe space, especially when you’re dealing with mental health struggles.
Staying Active as a Family
In addition to providing accountability for one another, working through mental health struggles as a family can involve staying mentally and physically active. Self-care is hugely important for anyone dealing with mental health issues, but it’s not always easy to find the motivation to exercise, eat well, or get enough sleep.
You might not be able to control your family members’ dietary choices or sleep habits, but you can engage in plenty of physical activities together that can improve your mental well-being, including:
- Playing sports together
- Going on bike rides
- Hiking as a family
- Going on evening walks
Exercise is a natural mood booster, and it can also help to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness that can often come with mental health issues.
It’s just as important to stay mentally active, especially when you’re struggling with issues like depression or trauma. Finding activities to do as a family, such as playing games or solving puzzles, will work your “mental muscles” and can actually boost your sense of optimism.
Because mental health issues are so prominent, there are plenty of households across the country with more than one family member struggling. If that’s the case for your family, you can see just how much you can do for each other. You don’t have to suffer alone, and you certainly don’t have to deal with your issues in silence.
By providing support for each other, holding one another accountable, and helping with everyday symptoms of different disorders, your family can be one of your best resources for managing your mental health and how to help family with mental health issues.