What happens when someone you love is diagnosed with a mental illness? How does it affect your life and the life of your family members?

Whether it’s your child, your parent, your sibling, or your spouse, caring for someone with a mental illness can really take a toll on you and impact various aspects of your quality of living.

The Impact of Mental Health on Families 

Many people don’t realize that a mental health diagnosis affects more than just one person: parents, siblings, spouses, and friends all have to come to terms with this new information and the effects of various symptoms. And that is stressful.

Will you loved one will be okay? Could you have prevented this? How can you help? What will the future hold? What adjustments need to be made to your daily life?

Stress is the number one effect that we see on families of those with mental health diagnoses. And while it’s stressful to have a family member with a mental illness, there are also emotional, social, and financial components of coping with a loved one’s illness.

Emotional Effect of Mental Health on Families 

There are many feelings that can come along with a family member’s mental health diagnoses. Just remember that whatever you feel is normal.

We most commonly hear about feelings of: 

  • Shame and Embarrassment: I don’t want anyone else to know…will others judge us?
  • Anger and Hurt: How could they do this to me?
  • Guilt: How did I not see this coming? Is this somehow my fault?
  • Grief: I hate to see them suffering…
  • Confusion: I don’t understand what’s going on… Why is this happening?
  • Fear: I don’t know how to help them… Will they ever get better?

Feelings are meant to be expressed, so don’t try to keep them bottled up inside. That will only make things worse and add to your frustration and unhappiness. If stress or emotions become overwhelming, you may find it helpful to talk to a professional. Seeking treatment of your own is a great way to help manage your feelings so that you can be fully present to support your loved one as they navigate their mental illness.

Social Effects of Mental Health on Families 

Caring for a loved one with a mental illness can take a lot of energy and time. While it’s important to maintain your own health and well-being when taking care of a loved one, it’s also important to maintain relationships with other family members and friends.

Yet, Having a family member diagnosed with a mental illness can also feel isolating, or like no one understands. Mental health problems are often difficult to open up about because of the fear of judgment. Relationships with family and friends can be difficult to maintain if there can be some anxiety around the idea of bringing others into your home or not knowing how your relative may react or behave around others.

Not only does a diagnosis affect your relationships with friends, but it can also affect your relationship with the person who has the mental illness. It can be hard to know how to act around someone when you first find out that they are suffering from mental health problems. People often start to treat the affected person differently because they feel bad or are scared of making things worse. Remember to just be yourself, and talk to a local counselor if you have questions.

Financial Effects of Mental Health on Families 

Mental health treatment is often expensive, and many insurance plans only cover a small amount. From medications, to counseling, to treatment centers, there are many expenses that can come when your family member has a mental health issue. You may feel embarrassed to ask for help from friends and other family members. Remember that getting treatment is important, and there may be options available to help you and your loved one.

How You Can Help

When someone you love is diagnosed with mental health issues, remember that while this news can be hard on you, it is also very difficult for them. Try, as best as you can, to understand what they are going through. Learning about your loved one’s mental illness, talking to their treatment providers, or finding support groups are great ways to understand and be supportive.

You want your loved one to feel understood, not alienated. Show them that you care by trying to learn as much as you can about what they are going through. For more information, reach out to us at Integrity Counseling & Wellness. We offer support to Cary, Holly Springs, and the surrounding communities. Contact us today at (919) 379-5788 or admin@counselingintegrity.com for more information about how we can help you and your loved one.

Family Counseling How Mental Illness Affects Families