What is Mental Illness?
Mental illness encapsulates a wide range of mental health conditions. Mental illnesses are often associated with difficulty functioning in social, work, or family environments.
Statistics show that approximately one in five adults experiences at least one form of mental illness.1 Similarly, data shows that about one in twelve people has a diagnosable use disorder. Mental illnesses affect thinking, behavior, feeling, and mood. This condition may be occasional or, in some cases, chronic or long-lasting.2
Mental illness can take a serious toll on daily living, including one’s ability to function at work and interact with others. However, mental illness can be managed with the right treatment and support.
Understanding Parents with Mental HealthHaving a parent with mental health can be quite distressing and can leave the children distraught, embarrassed, and with feelings of helplessness. Children or young adults living with a parent with mental health may experience the following:
- Emotional instability
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty in maintaining personal relationships
- Poor social interactions
Do Children Also Develop Mental Health Conditions?
Children who have parents with mental health conditions are at an increased risk of developing mental health illnesses themselves. Anxiety and depression are common experiences for many children living with patients with mental illnesses.
However, in some cases, the child may experience bipolar or schizophrenia, as these are both heavily based on genetics.3
The Impact of Mental Illness on ParentingParenting with a mental condition can be extremely challenging. The condition makes it difficult for affected parents to strike a balance between what their health necessitates and providing healthy parenting for their children. For example, a mother suffering from depression may get detached from their children’s emotional and physical well-being. Similarly, a bipolar father might experience difficulty relating with his children. These challenges can make healthy parenting difficult. For parents who have mental health conditions, it simply requires extra effort on both sides to create a healthy family relationship.
How Mental Health Problems Might Affect Parenting
Parents with mental illness may find it difficult to care for their children daily. Simple chores become almost impossible without assistance. These parents often worry about how their condition may affect their children, and can find it difficult to identify and support their children’s emotional needs.
Severe cases of mental illness such as psychosis and schizophrenia can be quite frightening for children to handle. It is common to find children living with mentally ill parents to become withdrawn and confused. 4
Parenting Tips for Those with Mental IllnessRaising children while dealing with a mental illness makes it quite difficult to deal with daily routines. The following are some parenting tips for those living with mental illness. Seek support to help with everyday activities if you need it. Even parents without mental illness will need support from family and friends. It’s also okay to seek help from therapists. Give your kids attention as much as possible, and carve out quality time with them. If you have any, map out your mental health cycles and factor them into your time with your kids. Also, try and manage your mood or emotions around your children. Ensure you take your medication appropriately. Manage your children’s behaviors and set boundaries for them. Many parents with mental illness find it difficult to set boundaries, but you must learn to guide your children’s behavior and stick to your boundaries as well.5
Risk Factors of Having Parents with Mental IllnessMental illnesses vary in severity. Some parents may need more help than others, but all mental health conditions can come with risks. Let’s look at some risk factors associated with mental illness.
PovertyPeople with mental illness often live in poverty. Over time, they drift into poverty due to discrimination and stigmatization, which prevents them from acquiring adequate education and employment. Similarly, people with mental illness cannot access community services and support due to stigmatization. Depending on how old the children are as well, they might not be able to get a job and help with bills if the parent’s mental health condition has caused them to lose their job.6
Occupational or Marital DifficultiesMental illness may have adverse effects on marriage and relationships in several ways. First, the other partner may become isolated, which stresses the relationship. Also, the stigmatization of mental illness could force the person with the mental illness to feel ashamed and withdraw. For children, seeing their parents go through hardships can be especially difficult, as they may not know what to do.
Poor Parent-Child CommunicationSome children, especially teenagers, find it very difficult to communicate with a parent who has a mental illness. As a result, it is common for them to withdraw, leading to a complete breakdown in communication with their parents.
Substance Abuse DisorderThere is a strong connection between substance abuse and mental disorders. Statistics show that many people, including parents with mental illness, have substance problems. Many children do not know how to help parents with both of these issues.
Openly Aggressive or Hostile BehaviorParents with mental illness may show hostile and aggressive behavior to their spouses or children. People with disorders such as psychosis can get aggressive if it’s not properly treated.
Create Positive Factors When You are a Parent with Mental Illness
Parents with mental health issues need to try and make positive choices in the lives of their children. Here are some examples of what parents can do to help:
- Use open communication
- Utilize outside support
- Reinforce positive self-esteem
- Build healthy coping skills
- A strong relationship with a healthy adult
- Keep children involved with friends
- Maintain healthy interests outside of the home
Get Help with Mental Illness at AMFM Treatment
If you need help managing and treating your mental illness, look no further than AMFM Treatment. We are here for both parents who are both parenting with a mental illness, as well as for children who have parents with unstable mental health. We offer multiple types of treatment in order to help families dealing with these problems, and we will be with you or your loved one every step of the way to ensure a healthy and whole recovery process.
Mental illness can have a huge blow on your personal, marital, and family life. At AMFM Treatment, patients with mental illness would receive effective and innovative treatment solutions to see them return to better mental and emotional health. Children can also undergo therapy if needed to help them deal with the ramifications of having a mentally ill parent. Please contact us today if you or a loved one would benefit from any of our services.
- https://psychcentral.com/lib/tips-for-parenting-with-a-mental-illness – 2