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Supporting an Adult Child with Mental Illness

Adult children with mental illness can play on your heart. You want to help them, but you also want to see them be able to take care of themselves and function in society in a healthy way.

Millions of young adults are currently living with mental health disorders. In fact, 50% of mental illness begins by the age of 14 and 75% begins once the brain is fully developed, by the age of 25.

We’ve put together this Supporting an Adult Child with Mental Illness guide to help you understand the situation to make better-educated decisions. Keep reading to learn more.

Tire of reading? Call us, we’re friendly and professional and want to help: 1-866-771-1649 

Getting Professional Help for Your Adult Child

As your adult child grows up, they will need more from you than just love and support. You should also provide them with information on how to manage their condition and seek appropriate medical attention when needed.

The following are signs that your adult child may need professional help:

Your child has experienced any one of the following symptoms for two weeks or longer:

  • Bipolar symptoms
  • Anxiety symptoms
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Severe agitation or aggression
  • Delusions
  • Suicidal thoughts

If your child is having difficulty functioning at home, school, or work it could be an indication something is off with them mentally.

If you suspect your child might have a mental illness it’s probably for good reasons. This includes changes in personality, thinking, emotions, or behaviors that don’t seem normal. If you think your child is experiencing problems related to their mental health, give us a call now.

Get Educated, Then Educate Your Children

Parents need to know what their adult children are experiencing mentally. Mental Illness is a serious medical issue that needs treatment. Thankfully there are resources available to help parents of adult children with mental illness understand this.

People who suffer from mental illness should be given the opportunity to seek help. They should be provided with the information needed to get treatment. Parents should try to understand what is happening in their children’s lives and get them the support they need.

Learn About Treatment Options for Mental Illness

Mental health conditions are typically treated by talking about them. Medications are also used to treat mental health conditions. Learning about these two treatment options makes you more informed, which leads to better decisions. With better decisions come better outcomes.

Talk Therapy

Talking about problems is important for children who suffer from mental illness. Therapy is a safe place to talk about issues without fear of being judged by others. Encourage your adult child to be open and honest during sessions. Remind them that confidentiality is required by law.

Help your adult child find a therapist that they resonate with and trust. Remind your child that they nor you are married to the therapist. Assure them that they can switch to another therapist at any time if this one doesn’t work out.

It is also a good idea to learn about different types of talk therapies so that you (the parent) can understand better ways of communicating and connecting with your adult child. For example, if your adult child suffers from borderline personality disorder (BPD), you may want to learn about dialectical behavioral therapy. This will help you learn to communicate with them more mindfully and more acceptingly which can improve the relationship you have with your child.


Medications are often used to treat mental illness. Many medications are available over the counter or as prescription drugs. The most common medications prescribed are antidepressants and antipsychotics.


Antipsychotic medication is usually taken daily. The most commonly used antipsychotics are the phenothiazines and butyrophenones. These drugs have been shown to be effective in treating schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and other psychotic disorders. They also may be useful as adjuncts for treatment of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and tics.

In addition to their use as antipsychotics, some antipsychotics are used for the treatment of other conditions. These include:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify): depression
  • Amisulpride (Solian): schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease
  • Asenapine (Saphris): bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder
  • Clozapine (CLOZ): schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and other psychotic disorders
  • Dosulepin (Corzine): major depressive disorder
  • Efavirenz (EFV): HIV/AIDS treatment
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac): major depressive disorder
  • Haloperidol (Haldol): schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, and bipolar disorder
  • Lurasidone (Latuda): schizophrenia and major depressive disorder
  • Dosepramine (Norpramin): major depressive disorder
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel): schizophrenia, schizo affective disorder, and bipolar disorder
  • Emazine (Remeron): major depressive disorder
  • Risperdal (Risperdal Consta): autism spectrum disorder
  • Seroquel (Quarrel XR): schizophrenia and major depressive disorder
  • Escital (Depakote): epilepsy
  • Valproic acid (Depakene): epilepsy


Many people who suffer from mental illness also suffer from depression. Medications like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil are some of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants for this purpose. These medications work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate moods. It’s also involved with sleep, appetite, sexual function, muscle control, and pain perception.

Some antidepressants can cause side effects such as weight gain, dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, and drowsiness. Some patients find these side effects acceptable because they believe that the benefits outweigh the risks. Others choose not to take antidepressants at all.

Encourage Treatment

Adult children should seek out professional help if they’re experiencing problems. Their parents are usually used to helping them, but this isn’t always possible.

Mental illness is a serious condition that requires professional help. A person must buy into their treatment plan if they want to improve. Children need to decide whether they want to get better on their own, or wait until they’re forced to do so.

Everyone is different, so proper encouragement doesn’t have a one size fits all solution. You may need to provide the exact same research and education to others that you’ve provided for yourself. In some cases, it may be necessary for you to rally the family around someone who’s suffering. Sometimes, unconditional love and support can motivate people to change. If all else fails – seek professional help.

Navigating dual diagnosis is difficult. Your adult child may need help dealing with both mental health issues and substance abuse problems. Substance abuse can start as a result of a mental health issue. Your child could need treatment for both disorders.

Substance abuse is a mental health issue that makes people feel better when they use drugs or alcohol. Encouragement is important for parents who want to help their children overcome this problem.

Substance abuse treatment centers should be aware of dual diagnoses. Holistic treatment programs should also be aware of dual diagnoses, as well as interventions. Professionals at these treatment centers can help parents do it right when they intervene.

As a parent, you should be supportive of your children’s efforts to recover from addiction. You should also set boundaries and enforce them. For example, you should not allow your adult child to use drugs or alcohol while recovering from addiction.

Manage Health Insurance

Your adult children should get health insurance from their employers. If they do not, they might be eligible for government-sponsored programs such as Medicaid.

Financial Assistance – Many states offer financial assistance for mental health and substance use problems. People who qualify can apply for Medicaid for low income families. Once they have the card in hand, they call their provider to get information on copays, deductible, and benefits.

Stay Strong After Recovery

Relapse prevention is vital for an adult child who has gone through treatment. Learn more about triggers and how to deal with them. Help your adult child get back on track by checking up on him or her regularly.

Take Care of Yourself

A mental health crisis is stressful to everyone in the family. When a child suffers from a psychiatric condition, parents must be there for them. Parents need to talk about their feelings and needs, and see a therapist if necessary. Regular counseling sessions will help parents cope with stress and set proper boundaries.

Your therapist will help you understand what your child is going though. He or she will also know how to handle the situation. You may feel ashamed to talk about mental illness, but it doesn’t need to be shameful.

Mental illness affects many people. Your neighbor may be dealing with this too. With the right plan and attitude your child will get through their problems and return to a happy and productive life.

Empower Them

Mental health issues are something we need to talk about when our children get older. We should be prepared to help our children if they become mentally ill. 

Positive life-style habits. Positive life-style habits include proper diet and exercise. Proper diet includes eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Exercise includes walking or jogging. Sleep is important because it helps your body recover from daily activities. Teaching your children about the importance of proper diet and exercise can help assist them in managing their moods and mental health. Stay in a positive mood also as this will encourage and empower them to be more positive and hopeful about their mental health.

Adult Children Mental Illness Tennessee

The first step toward getting better is recognizing the problem. If you suspect your child has a mental health issue, talk to them about it. Ask if they’ve ever felt depressed or anxious. Listen closely to what they say. If they don’t want to discuss it, respect their wishes but let them know you’re available to them if they ever want to talk to you. Also let them know they have options. Have questions? Need to talk? Call us now: 1-866-771-1649