Mental Health for Families

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation and to improve the lives of individuals living with mental and substance use disorders, and their families.

Most organizations, if they mention families at all, pay lip service but do not offer resources. Here, however is a treasury of resources for family members whose loved one has any kind of mental health illness or addiction.

SAMHSA’s goal is to provide leadership and resources – programs, policies, information and data, funding, and personnel – advance mental and substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery services in order to improve individual, family, community, and public health.

Here is more direct quotation from the SAMHSA’s resource materials:

Every family is unique, but all families share a bond that can be used to support one another during trying times.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for helping a family member who is drinking too much, using drugs, or dealing with a mental illness, research shows that family support can play a major role in helping a loved one with mental and substance use disorders.

When a family member is experiencing a mental or substance use disorder, it can affect more than just the person in need of recovery. Evidence has shown that some people have a genetic predisposition for developing mental and substance use disorders, and may be at greater risk based on environmental factors such as having grown up in a home affected by a family member’s mental health or history of substance use. Families should be open to the options of support groups or family therapy and counseling, which can improve treatment effectiveness by supporting the whole family.

It is also important to remember that the unique challenges that come from helping a loved one with a mental or substance use disorder can be taxing, so caregivers should take steps to prioritize their own health as well.

Family members may be more likely to notice when their loved ones are experiencing changes in mood or behavior. Being able to offer support, family members can connect those in need with treatment, resources, and services to begin and stay on their recovery journey.

From self-assessment tests for family members to videos on broaching difficult topics with people whose temperament may be volatile, SAMHSA is a must-have, go-to link for family members who need basic information, referral and counseling options, and a plethora of support materials for developing a healthy and contented home environment.

Most of the text for this article has been adapted from the SAMHSA website, which as a creation of the United States government is considered in the public domain.

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