5 Ways Family Support Can Transform Your Mental Health Journey

When it comes to mental health recovery, the support of your family can go beyond the therapist’s office and far further than any medication could. I learned this firsthand when one of my daughters struggled with her mental health.

No matter if you’re trying to get through depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, stress, PTSD, or any of the many other mental health disorders, having a strong support system at home can make all the difference. With that in mind, let’s look at how a family can help mental health recovery and ways to ensure it happens.

Close up on a man and a woman holding hands at a wooden table

Why Is Family Support So Important?

For anyone who has to deal with or is struggling with mental health issues, the love, understanding, and encouragement that you’ll get from family members can be a literal lifeline – at the very least, it’s something that will help to put you on the right path towards recovery and healing. But why is that? How does it work? Family support one hundred percent contributes to mental health recovery in several ways, and we’ll look into them now. 

Emotional Validation And Understanding

When dealing with mental health struggles, it’s common to feel alone, isolated and misunderstood. Many people believe that no one can help them or that asking for help would be pointless. As a family member, you can be there to counter these mental blocks and help them see they don’t have to go it alone.

During these tough times, having supportive family members who can validate emotions and demonstrate understanding, even if they don’t fully grasp the exact feelings, can make a huge difference. Just imagine the comfort and positivity of feeling understood and not judged—it can be incredibly reassuring and a positive way to navigate mental health challenges.

Encouragement And Motivation

Recovering from mental health challenges can be a tough journey with numerous obstacles and setbacks. However, with the support of your family, you’ll receive plenty of encouragement and motivation to keep moving forward in a way that suits you best—whether it’s considering rehab, opting for therapy, or exploring other options.

We chose to go to a holistic chiropractor who opened our eyes to just how far-reaching experiences and factors can affect our mental health. Going to her appointments with her helped us as parents see just how much she was struggling.

But, regardless of the path your loved one chooses to follow, it’s often a difficult road, and many individuals may find themselves slipping back into old habits. Having your family around to motivate you and provide a reason to recover can make the journey less challenging and lead to more positive outcomes.

READ: Prioritize Mental Health as a Single Mom

Practical Assistance 

Trip, middle-aged married couple riding in the car together. Male driver, female passenger seat

Providing practical help from family members, such as accompanying a loved one to therapy sessions or assisting with daily tasks, can make a difference. This support can alleviate some of the burdens that may otherwise contribute to a relapse or exacerbate mental health issues, especially during challenging times.

The assistance can range from small gestures like picking up groceries or giving someone a ride to a therapy session, to larger commitments such as moving in with loved ones to ensure they receive full-time help and support.

My daughter’s doctor showed me techniques I can do at home to help our daughter when she was struggling between appointments and they’ve helped her so much. And it’s allowed me not to feel so helpless.

Every family’s situation is unique, so it’s crucial to have a thorough discussion about what’s needed and how everyone can pitch in. When everyone is on the same page, genuine recovery can begin.

Reducing Stigma And Shame 

Family support plays a vital role in addressing the stigma and shame often associated with mental health issues. Even when individuals understand that there’s no need to feel this way, it can still be difficult for many to acknowledge their struggles due to shame.

This has been a hurdle we’ve had to reach many times with our daughter. She never wants to make anyone feel bad so keeping things to herself has often been her fallback. Thankfully, we’ve worked through this enough that she now feels better about coming to us when she’s struggling.

By creating an environment of acceptance and open communication, families can provide their loved ones with a safe space to overcome their mental health challenges and recover without any shame. This support can make individuals feel more at ease about seeking help and expressing their feelings and needs, ultimately expediting the recovery process.

Better Treatment Outcomes 

Child psychologist session, mother preteen daughter and behaviour therapist together in office.

It’s often challenging for individuals in the midst of a mental health crisis to consistently follow their treatment plans, even when it’s the best course of action for them. They may forget, feel that treatment is no longer necessary, or struggle with fluctuating feelings of improvement or worsening.

Research has indicated that individuals with strong family support tend to have better treatment outcomes and are more likely to adhere to their treatment plans. The involvement of family members can serve as an additional source of motivation, providing reminders of what needs to be done and why. While it’s important for family members not to pressure or coerce anyone, especially when it comes to mental health recovery, their understanding of the individual can help them communicate effectively and encourage adherence to medication and therapy appointments, which can be crucial for recovery.

How To Ensure You Have Family Support In Mental Health Recovery 

Making sure your family provides the support needed for mental health recovery requires effort from everyone and a big part of that is good communication. Here are some strategies that families can use to make sure things go smoothly.

Open Communication 

If you want to support someone in their mental health recovery, it’s crucial to promote open and honest communication within the family. It may seem simple, but many families struggle to be open and honest, often fearing conflict or upset.

It’s important to work on this aspect, ideally before anyone needs to rely on open communication due to mental health issues, but starting at any time is better than not at all. To begin, create opportunities for everyone to express their feelings, concerns, and needs without fear of judgment. This involves practicing active listening, a valuable skill for everyone to have.

Education And Awareness

Middle aged business woman working on computer in home office.

It’s also vital to take the time to educate family members about mental health disorders, including all the potential symptoms, any treatment options, and why they might come about in the first place (although, of course, there isn’t always a specific reason). 

If you can do this, you’ll be able to cut through all the myths and misinformation and understand what your loved one is going through, and that’s when you’ll be in a better position to help (plus, you’ll have more knowledge of what help is out there, which is always beneficial). 

Setting Realistic Expectations 

It’s always tough for a family member to witness a loved one going through a mental health issue and not feel the urge to push them too hard and too soon. It’s natural to want to improve their situation, but what seems obvious to you may not be helpful or the right approach.

As parents, this has been the hardest struggle. We want desperately for our children to have the best life and be always happy but that isn’t always the case and we need to be ok with them not being ok. We need to help encourage them and be patient.

Setting realistic expectations that everyone can work towards helps prevent putting extra pressure on anyone. It also allows for progress, no matter how small, to be acknowledged and properly celebrated. This kind of recognition can provide the motivation someone needs for their mental health and recovery after facing challenges.

Get Professional Help

It’s crucial to remember not to hesitate in seeking professional help if it’s needed. Family therapy can be a valuable option as it combines the family element with professional support, and it can benefit everyone in the group, not just the individual struggling with their mental health.

Final Thoughts

Family support plays a significant role in a person’s mental health recovery, so if it’s possible to offer it, that’s exactly what you need to do—it could even save a life.

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