If you have a grown child with mental illness, know that you are not alone. The National Institute of Mental Illness (NIMH) reports that 1 in 5 adults in the United States has a mental illness. Of those near 52 million adults are several grown children of parents just like yourself. Whether you have experience with mental illness or not, learning how to cope when your grown child is experiencing a mental illness is absolutely vital not only to you, but to them, as well. When you can cope in a healthy manner, it opens up opportunities for you and your grown child to build and enjoy a happy, healthy relationship if possible.
Signs of Mental Illness in an Adult
There are several different kinds of mental illnesses that adults experience, ranging from depression and anxiety to personality disorders and schizophrenia. The signs of each individual mental illness will vary, as there are specific characteristics that define each one. However, there are some signs of mental illness that are shared across the board, some of which include the following:
- Excessive irritability
- Significant changes in eating and sleeping patterns
- Unexplained mood swings
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Suicidal thinking
- Withdrawal from people and activities
- Difficulty coping with daily stress
It is not always easy to recognize when someone is experiencing a mental illness, especially when that person is as close to you as your child. You might feel like something is off, but you can’t put your finger on it. Unfortunately, the longer that your grown child continues on with their mental illness going untreated, several negative consequences can develop.
How to Cope with a Grown Child with Mental Illness
Parents take on a great deal of responsibility upon having a child. That responsibility does not suddenly go away once that child becomes an adult. Parents love their children unconditionally and are often deeply impacted by their actions, even when they become adults. If your grown child with a mental illness has created challenges in your life as a result of their mental state, there are things that you can do in order to cope so that you can stay well at this time (and hopefully be able to help them).
Learn About Mental Illness
One of the best things that you can do in an effort to cope with a grown child with mental illness is educate yourself about the illness they are experiencing. It can be almost impossible to separate the person from the mental illness, especially when the person is someone so close to you. But, learning about the specific mental illness can help. Spend time finding out what causes the mental illness, what the risk factors are, and what the symptoms can be. Learn as much as you can about the brain’s role in the mental illness as well as what treatment options are available.
Of course you are going to want to do everything in your power to get your grown child with a mental illness they help they need. But, unfortunately, it is up to them to acquire any level of care given they are an adult. What you can do is encourage them to get help. You can do this by speaking about your concerns in a non-judgmental tone and offering your support so that they do not feel attacked. It is not always easy to accept that you might have a mental illness, so be patient and empathetic when approaching your child about this.
If you find that your child’s mental illness is causing you distress, it is completely acceptable to set some healthy boundaries. Mental illness is not the easiest thing to deal with, even if you are not the person who has one. Sometimes, our loved one’s mental illness can make having a relationship with them very difficult. Therefore, setting boundaries can help. Examples of setting boundaries can include limiting visitation time with your child, not providing any money to your child (especially if they are abusing drugs or alcohol), or not involving yourself in their affairs as significantly as you used to. When healthy boundaries are set, you can be more effective in your support of your child.
Get Help For Yourself
Above all else, get help for yourself and your family. Be sure to speak to a professional about what you are experiencing as a result of your child’s mental illness. It is ok to talk about the struggles and challenges that you face, as it does not mean that you love your child any less. But, in order to be a pillar of support for them, you must establish a healthy headspace before doing so.
Mental Health Treatment in Tennessee
If your adult child is experiencing a mental illness and needs help, encourage them to contact us today. We understand the many obstacles that come along with mental illness and we are here to help. Do not let another day go by without asking for the help that is needed.
Call us at 1-866-771-1649 or visit our website to learn more about the programming we offer and what our team of compassionate professionals can do for you and your child.