PARENTS & FAMILIES

As a family member, you want the best for your loved ones, but many times mental health can be a difficult subject to talk about.

Below are some resources and articles that we collected to help promote encouragement of positive mental health habits for the people you care about most!

Be Attentive

No one knows your family member like you, so make sure you check-in from time to time, especially if you notice any changes in their usual behavior. Keep reading to learn more about when it's especially important to ask your family members about their mental wellness:

When to Check In

You should pay particular attention if a loved one goes through one of the following experiences:

  • Loss of a loved one
  • Divorce or separation of their parents
  • Any major transition—new home, new school, etc.
  • Traumatic life experiences, like living through a natural disaster
  • Teasing or bullying
  • Difficulties in school or with classmates

What to Look For

Consult with a health care professional if your loved one exhibits one or more of these warning signs:

  • Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
  • Experiencing sudden overwhelming fear for no reason
  • Getting in many fights or wanting to hurt others
  • Having intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
  • Having severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Showing drastic changes in behavior or personality

Conversation Starters

Questions to Ask

Can you tell me more about what is happening? How you are feeling?

Have you had feelings like this in the past?

I'm here to listen. How can I help you feel better?

Do you feel like you want to talk to someone else about your problem?

I'm worried about your safety. Can you tell me if you have thoughts about harming yourself or others?

Tips to Remember

Communicate in a straightforward manner

Speak at a level that is appropriate to your loved one's age and development level

Discuss the topic when your loved one feels safe and comfortable

Watch for reactions during the discussion and slow down or back up if your loved one becomes confused or looks upset

Listen openly and let your loved one tell you about his or her feelings and worries

Be Willing to Ask for Help

If You Notice Warning Signs

If you notice symptoms, schedule an appointment with a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist as soon as you can. If that is not possible, then meet with your pediatrician or primary care physician. Make sure that you provide your healthcare professional with as much detailed information as you can:

  • Past mental health evaluations and other medical records
  • Descriptions of symptoms, when they began, and whether they have changed over time
  • Any medications or other medical treatments that your loved one is receiving
  • Anything else that is requested or that you think might be valuable information

To Support Your Loved One

Learn all that you can!

You should educate yourself as much as possible about your loved one’s mental health condition. NAMI Basics is an educational class that teaches parents and other family caregivers how to cope with their loved one’s condition and manage their recovery. 

Talk with your child's school!

Check to be sure that your child is receiving appropriate care and services at school. Fortunately, the law requires that schools provide special services and accommodations to children with mental health conditions that interfere with their education. 

Work with your loved one!

You need to remain respectful and understanding of your loved one’s feelings even if everything seems to be working against you. You should avoid getting angry at them for behaviors that are not under their control. 

To Get Your Loved One Appropriate Care

  • Talk to your loved one's doctor, school nurse, or another health care provider and seek further information about the behaviors or symptoms that worry you
  • Ask your loved one's primary care physician if your loved one needs further evaluation by a specialist with experience in behavioral problems
  • Ask if your loved one's specialist is experienced in treating the problems you are observing
  • Talk to your medical provider about any medication and treatment plans

You can find directories of mental health professionals and treatment facilities through PsychologyToday and SAMHSA.

To Support the Rest of Your Family

Take care of yourself!

It is important to remember it is your responsibility to care of yourself. If you begin to feel that you are struggling with sadness or anxiety, do not hesitate to seek treatment for yourself. Caring for your own mental well-being will serve as a model for your loved one to follow, and ensure that you are healthy and able to care for your loved one.

Take care of your family!

Make sure that your other children understand what their sibling is going through, and that you spend time with each of them. Keeping a happy and balanced family can be very helpful in reducing stress levels for everyone, which can help alleviate symptoms of mental illness.

Get your family involved!

If you live with a partner or spouse, or have other children, try to get them involved in being an advocate for your loved one. Be ready to compromise, listen and be open to new ideas. If you discover that some members of your family have little interest in supporting you and your loved one in overcoming mental health challenges, remember that no-one will always react in an ideal way, but you still must support your loved one, even if others that you care about don't.

Learn More!

If you have or know of any other beneficial resources to help parents and families promote positive mental health habits at home, please contact us below! 

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