In an interview aired on NBC4, NAMI Franklin Country’s Program Director Karen Cousins talks to Robyn Haines of Daytime Columbus about the importance of understanding mental illness to recognize it and provide support to an afflicted family member
Karen also shares how her personal experience with parenting her daughter who has been struggling with a mental disorder brought her to NAMI and made her an advocate of mental health.
Supporting family members with mental health disorders
While many people with mental health disorders are able to get treatment and live relatively normal lives, others struggle to get by without the support of family and friends.
For those with mental health disorders, family support can be vital. Family members can provide emotional support, practical assistance, and financial help. They can also help connect individuals with mental health disorders to resources and services.
As Karen’s experience shows, providing support to a family member with mental illness can be challenging. This is especially the case when the individual is unable to recognize their affliction and refuses treatment and the support given by family. It takes a lot of love, persistence, and a genuine understanding of the nature of the mental illness to consistently provide supportive care.
And most times, it needs a community to support the families and people who are dealing with mental health disorders in their homes.
Supporting the supporters: mental health family support group
If you have a family member with mental illness, you are not alone.
Many families face similar challenges. A mental health support group provides help and support for caregivers, family members, and partners caring for loved ones with mental illness.
Mental health support groups are usually led by a mental health professional. The groups provide education about mental illness and its treatment. They also offer support and guidance for dealing with day-to-day challenges
Benefits of a mental health family support group
Mental health family support groups can offer a variety of benefits for families of individuals struggling with mental illness:
1. They provide a safe space for families to share their experiences, offer support and advice to one another, and learn about available resources
2. They can help reduce feelings of isolation and shame and improve communication within the family
3. They’re a great way to connect with other families who are dealing with similar issues, and offer a sense of community and belonging that can be helpful for families dealing with mental illness
NAMI’s Support groups, in particular, follow a model that ensures everyone has an opportunity to be heard. They are:
- Free of cost
- Led by adult family members trained to facilitate a NAMI Family Support Group
- Not structured to recommend or endorse specific medical treatments