Mental Illness and Family Advocacy

family mental health

When family members live with mental illness, it can affect the whole household. Families may experience changes in roles, responsibilities and relationships.

In addition, stress can cause families to develop mental health problems of their own. This can include somatic symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and loss of appetite.


Mental health issues affect everyone in a family. In addition to causing emotional turmoil, it can also cause financial difficulties as the cost of treatment can place a strain on families, especially those living in poverty.

Communication is a key component to understanding and helping your family member. Encourage them to seek out help for their symptoms by recommending that they speak with a mental health professional or psychiatrist. You can even offer to go with them to their appointment to help alleviate any anxieties they may have.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself as you support your family member through their journey with mental illness. You will need your own healthy coping skills to get through this difficult time. There are many helpful resources and training courses available for people supporting loved ones with mental illness. Find out about these in your local area by speaking with a mental health professional or by searching online.


When a family member has a mental illness, the entire family must work to support him. This can be done by offering a non-judgmental attitude and by attending family therapy.

It is normal to experience a flurry of emotions when a loved one is diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Guilt, fear, anger, disbelief, resentment and sadness are common reactions. It can take time to accept the diagnosis, and each person works toward acceptance at a different pace.

Educating yourself about the full spectrum of mental illnesses through reliable online and offline resources can help calm feelings of guilt, fear, resentment and anger. It can also help you learn about the types of treatment and supports that are available to your family member. Make sure your family has a list of people to call for support in the event of a crisis. This can include your mental health professional and a general physician. A list can be placed in a visible place in your home.


It is common for family members to experience a range of emotional, social and psychological problems when coping with a mental health issue in their loved one. This can result in a variety of symptoms including somatic problems (headaches, loss of appetite and fatigue) and psychological difficulties like anxiety and depression.

The good news is that many of these issues can be addressed with the help of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a type of treatment that can be delivered by clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists, psychiatric nurses and social workers.

Some types of psychotherapy include individual therapy, which involves working with a therapist on a one-to-one basis; couples therapy, which is typically done by a licensed marriage and family therapist; and family therapy, which is a form of treatment that focuses on improving the dynamics between a patient and their family members. Other types of psychotherapy are interpersonal therapy and group therapy. These can be helpful in addressing a wide variety of symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, grief, low self-esteem and trouble with relationships.


Advocacy is a way to promote and protect the rights of people with mental health conditions. It involves speaking up to amplify their voices, taking action against discrimination and stepping up for them when needed. It can be a one-to-one effort or part of a larger movement.

Advocacy may also involve sharing your experiences with others in order to help prevent stigma and make them aware of the challenges you face. You can be an advocate for yourself, your family member or a whole community of people with mental illness.

Families of children who have mental health conditions often find themselves in unfamiliar situations, which can affect expected processes and milestones. This can lead to feelings of isolation, especially if parents are not familiar with a mental health diagnosis or the community of resources available to their child (McGinty, Worthington and Dennison 2008). They may need to seek out new areas of support such as peer-support groups or therapist and psychiatrist support groups for families.