How Mental Health Affects Families
Here at CAMHS we know a few things…
One of those things is how common mental health difficulties are amongst everyone (children, young people and adults), another thing is how important support networks are such as families are in recovering from mental health difficulties.
Emotional, behavioural and mental health difficulties tend to have a ‘ripple’ effect on families. This means that the difficulties can create stress, uncertainty, troubling emotions (such as guilt or anger), and lead to big changes in the way that families live their lives.
Families are often involved in the day to day care of those with mental health difficulties. This might involve a parent or carer taking their child to a CAMHS appointment, or a teenager helping their parent who has fragile mental health with the weekly shopping. When families are included in the care given by as partners in care and do receive training and support, there is strong evidence that this leads to better outcomes for everyone involved.
If you as a family member, do not feel involved in the plan of care provided by CAMHS for your loved one, it is important to tell someone. Patient confidentiality is always respected by the service but at CAMHS we pride ourselves in making family members partners in the care and support we offer.
We offer some special relationship and family work within CAMHS as part of our talking therapies, however, we would also give this general advice for family members:
- Spend time together as a family when you can, you could take it in turns to pick activities and nice things to do to connect with one another.
- Try to talk about things together as a family if you can. Talk about how you feel and encourage others to do the same. Try to ensure everyone has the same understanding and position.
- Look after yourself as well as the person in your family with the difficulty. It is important that you do not take on too much, become too overwhelmed or burned out.
- None of us are perfect, we all say and do things that we regret from time to time, the important thing is to acknowledge when this has happened, listen to each other and move on together
- Try to see the person within your family affected by MH as a person and not just their MH. Focus on their strengths and the ‘silly’ things that they do that make you laugh.
- Take time to learn about the difficulties or diagnosis that the family member is experiencing, this sometimes makes confusing things a little clearer.
- Give yourself time to adjust to the MH difficulties, coming to terms with things often takes longer than we expect.
- Encourage the person with difficulties to do things, try to be realistic and not too demanding.
- Know who to contact when things don’t feel right or you are concerned. You know that family member better than the professionals trying to support them.
- Hang onto positive family memories, this might include making a slideshow or a scrapbook of old family photos.