10 Proven Ways How Adult Children's Mental Health Should Be Addressed
Mental illness, especially mood disorders, is common in young adults nowadays. And it is often difficult for parents to find the perfect balance between involvement and letting their child live independently.
So how adult children's mental health should be addressed? It may be as simple as being there for them when they need a friend, or it might require more intensive steps like becoming educated about mental illness and seeking the help of a professional. There’s no one proven approach to address this.
Besides, relationships and symptoms vary, making it impossible to recommend a one-way approach. But don't worry, here we are! This guide will teach you how to support your child’s mental health in helpful ways without being pushy, invasive, or overbearing.
Adult Children Are At Risk for Mental Health Issues
You’re not alone if you feel concerned about your adult child’s mental health. The NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) report shows that 1 in every 3 young adults in the U.S. aged 18-25 years experience mental illness. Also, 1 in every 10 experiences severe mental illness.
Therefore, neglecting to address your adult child’s mental health can lead to more serious consequences. It can affect their job performance and their ability to make good choices. Plus, it can turn into a substance abuse problem or suicidal thoughts.
In fact, according to the NAMI report, 3.8 million adult children had serious thoughts of suicide. That’s why it’s important to know the signs & symptoms of a mental health illness before dismissing them.
Causes of Mental Illness in Adult Children
Be aware that mental illnesses have many causes, but genetics play a major role. You can look into all the causes here.
If one parent has a mental illness, there is a chance that the child will inherit that same condition. The chance is even greater if both parents have mental illnesses.
Also, a child may be genetically predisposed to develop certain illnesses and disorders, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, due to abnormal levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine or serotonin.
The environment a child is raised in can significantly impact the development of mental illness. A child raised in an abusive or violent home may have post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses.
They may also become addicted to drugs and alcohol to cope with the abuse they are experiencing. Thus, the environment can also trigger mental illnesses that were present before birth, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Childhood trauma can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health. Research shows that the severity and duration of childhood abuse and neglect are closely related to the likelihood of developing mental illness as an adult.
Some specific forms of childhood trauma include bullying, parental rejection, physical violence or assault by parents or caregivers, chronic family violence, parental substance abuse, and witnessing domestic violence.
Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol are often thought to be the cause of mental illness. Although they can certainly be a factor, many other potential causes are more common.
Many substances are capable of inducing or exacerbating mental health problems, including:
- Street drugs like cocaine and amphetamines
- Prescription medications like antidepressants and benzodiazepines
- Over-the-counter cold medicines like pseudoephedrine and epinephrine
10 Ways On How Adult Children's Mental Health Can Be Addressed
Here are 10 ways to help adult children overcome challenges and improve their mental health and well-being. These tips also highlight how to cope when your adult child has mental health issues.
1. Educate Yourself About Mental Health
Educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions. For example, if you notice changes in your child’s habits, they could be experiencing anxiety or depression and might need professional help. Remember that symptoms can be subtle, and the sufferer may hide some.
2. Talk To Them About Their Mental Health
Approaching your child about this issue requires a lot of trust from both parties. But to determine if this approach will work, it is best to assess how receptive they will be.
Ask what you can do to help. They might appreciate hearing that you care enough to discuss it with them.
- Don’t Try To Fix Them
They may not want your help, so don’t push it on them. If they want your help, they’ll ask for it. It can be difficult when someone you love doesn’t want your help, but it is their decision and you need to respect that decision or walk away.
4. Give Them Space
Give them the space to deal with their mental health on their own terms, in their own way. Provide them with self-care opportunities through yoga, meditation, reading fiction books, outdoor activities, etc.
However, don’t leave them so much that they feel abandoned. Find a balance between helping them find solutions and letting them be independent adults.
5. Show Support
Be supportive of whatever your adult child chooses to do. Acknowledge how hard it must be for them, and encourage whatever coping mechanisms they use (whether it’s taking therapy or music).
Even if you don’t know the best thing for them, just being there for them and encouraging whatever path they choose will help make all the difference. Also, listen and validate their feelings and struggles.
Show empathy when they’re down - remember that they have been through a lot during their lifetime, which has resulted in mental distress.
6. Don’t Judge Them
This is a difficult situation for both parties involved. But the best you can do is show your support without judgment. Also, offer unconditional love and acceptance.
Don’t make accusations or blame them for their symptoms. Furthermore, don’t treat them differently than before their diagnosis.
7. Seek Counseling
If okay with them, connect your child to someone they can relate with. For instance, successful people who had mental illness but sought treatment. Doing this will ease the fear of stigma.
8. Encourage Treatment
Most often, you won’t be able to solve this problem alone. Reach out for help from a mental health professional, like a therapist or psychiatrist.
However, be careful not to push them into treatment. Just make them see the good that comes with professional mental health treatment, and they may be motivated to partake through voluntary admission.
9. Take Care of Yourself
Take care of yourself to be there for your child. Find a support group, like online or in person, for parents of adult children with mental health issues. Hearing about other people’s experiences will provide comfort and reassurance and give you ideas on how to cope with things.
Also, maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat well and exercise regularly. Ensure you eat a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and exercise regularly. Also, connect with friends or family members who make you feel happy.
10. Don’t Expect Results Overnight
Treat this like any other condition – it may take some time before seeing any improvements. Offer support every step of the way by being patient and understanding.
There are many ways in how adult children mental health can be addressed. It depends on the relationship you have with your child. Also, it depends on the symptoms - each condition has a set of unique symptoms, though some can overlap.
However, the most important thing is to give them the care and support they need for greater mental health and a more fulfilled life. Just because they’re adults doesn’t mean they won’t need support from their family. They may not ask for it, but they may need it.