The importance of the family in mental health
This is how the family context acts favoring or preventing psychological disorders.
The family determines how we are in many ways. Our parents, siblings, grandparents, and even uncles and cousins teach us values, customs, our mother tongue, and the way we relate to others, aspects that make up our identity and personality.
However, for better or for worse, the family also conditions our emotional stability, offering us a stable and healthy environment in which we can develop adequately or, on the contrary, an environment marked by insecurity and uncertainty, which destabilizes us.
The importance of the family in mental health is a fact, a reality that we are going to explore and analyze next.
Why does family matter in mental health?
The family plays a fundamental role in the lives of most people. There are many situations in which important decisions are made based on the family, what it has taught us throughout life, its well-being, and the way we relate to it once we are adults.
Relationships with our family nucleus greatly determine our way of being and how we relate to other people, being a factor that also has a great impact on our mental health.
In all families, there are events that test our mental health and condition it. There are milder ones, such as a momentary argument between our parents, and there are more serious ones, such as a divorce or the loss of a parent at an early age. Living in these situations when we are small influences our emotional stability, being able to live especially intensely and if it does not end well, leads to psychological problems.
The family: an environment that conditions our life
The family is an environment that conditions our life and, of course, our mental health. The ideal means for a person to always grow up is a healthy and functional family, regardless of its structure and whether or not there are blood ties between its members. To this day we know that the fact that a family has a father and a mother is a single parent, or is a homosexual marriage does not condition the health of the individual, but rather the parenting style that parents exercise towards their children.
Every functional family is one in which fathers and mothers know how to educate their children well, they raise them in an environment in which affection and love are well present, but without letting the boys and girls do whatever comes their way. in win. The key is knowing how to give love while being responsible in caring for children, applying a democratic parenting system, and fulfilling the three main functions that every good father and mother must fulfill: protection, care, and affection.
If as children they gave us adequate protection, care, and affection, we also learned that they are what we should provide our children, which works as a protective factor both when we developmental disorders and when our children develop it. On the other hand, if these needs were not satisfied, it is more difficult for us to offer them to our children without the help of other partners in parenting since we cannot provide what we do not have or receive unless we learn it in a way. consciously and voluntarily once we are adults.
That we have reduced parenting to three basic functions does not mean that they are easy. Giving protection, care, and affection to our sons and daughters is a complicated task, which requires deep reflection, patience, and self-knowledge, in order to identify mistakes that we can make in our way of raising that, although we do not realize it, can affect in a very negative way to the health of our children. While all good parents want the best for their children, this does not mean that they comply, even if they do not do so with bad intentions.
For example, comments such as “you’re stupid”, “don’t be dramatic to me”, “you could do much better” and others, far from “motivating” them can make them think that they are worthless, that they are not valued even by their own parents And, taking into account the importance that our parents and other authority figures acquire in our growth, this greatly damages their mental health, especially in their self-esteem, self-concept, and way of relating to others.
In addition, children, be they, children or adolescents, learn to behave according to what they see in their parents. If a son or daughter behaves disrespectfully towards his parents, far from thinking that it is because he is a bad person or because he is a black sheep, it is quite likely that he behaves like this because he considers that his parents do not respect him or, also, because his parents have behaved disrespectfully both towards him and towards other people in the family environment, such as grandparents, siblings, uncles or cousins.
Mental health of a family with a member with psychopathology
In most cases, a family member with a mental disorder is a serious setback for the family, especially for the person who is going to take care of him. Family members can feel very overwhelmed and stressed when they see how a person they have known for a long time changes, stops being how it was before, and now requires a lot of care. The psychopathology of a loved one is experienced as a loss and, at the same time, as the acquisition of a heavy burden.
Family members of people with mental disorders are more likely to experience feelings of pain and loss, which, although they increase and decrease throughout life, end up turning into deep and intense chronic pain. They live on a constant roller coaster, the ups, and downs of which depend directly on the relapses and remissions of the psychopathology of the family member in their care.
Like families in general, families with a member with a mental disorder represent a diverse group. Each family member has unique experiences, needs, and concerns. Thus, each family can behave differently with their relative, depending on the diagnosis and the resources they have.
Over time, although with great difficulty and with the help of psychologists and support groups, family members who care for the member with a mental disorder end up accepting their symptoms, learning to cope with the disorder, and manage it in the best possible way. However, this does not remove the deep emotional pain, stress, and anxiety that they experience as a result of having to care for a mentally unstable person, problems that can cause them to also present a mental disorder.
This is especially noticeable in families whose member with psychopathology has a personality disorder, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder and has little awareness of their disorder. It is hard to put up with a person who is incoherent in his behavior, who constantly changes his mind and blames others for his mistakes, or even thinks he receives some type of aggression when, perhaps, it is him or she who, without realizing it, exercises psychological abuse to the people who care for her.
The importance of the family in mental health