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What are the needs of families coping with mental illness?

The needs of families coping with mental illness are documented in the book, Families and Mental Illness: New Directions in Professional Practice. The needs fall into eight categories:

  • A comprehensive system of mental health care
  • Support
  • Information
  • Coping skills
  • Involvement in the treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery process
  • Contact with other families impacted by mental illness
  • Managing the process of family adaptation to illness
  • Assistance in handling problems in society at large (e.g., ignorance, fear, stigma)

The needs of families coping with mental illness include the following: Access to mental health professionals, which is very limited; the ability to accept mental illness as illness rather than as weakness; and, finding yourself in an environment where you’re not afraid to share your feelings and emotions without the fear of being judged.

There’s a concept in psychology of expressed emotion. Expressed emotion is being negative and judgmental. High expressed emotion is negatively associated with long-term mental illness. Families need to be supportive of the struggle and need to be willing to take that extra step to get loved ones help they need without putting them down.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.