Info For Families

Family and friends are an integral part of recovery. This page includes resources for loved ones so they can better understand mental illness and how to support someone as they heal.

Getting Involved

Friends and family members are very important sources of “natural” support for most people.  These are the people who know their loved one best, know what works for them, and know how to best support their continued healing and recovery. 

Family involvement differs depending on the client's age and the program they are attending. 

Adult Mental Health Programs: Since clients in our adult programs are 18+, they have to give permission for their family and loved ones to be involved in their care. Depending on the situation, we typically encourage clients to incorporate their support system in treatment. Family involvement is individualized for each client but can include meetings with the client's individual therapist and psychiatrist, communication with the client's treatment team, and visitation. 

Teen Mental Health Program: Family/caregiver involvement is strongly encouraged for these programs. Family therapy is offered and there are psychoeducational groups designed to help support family members and educate them on their child's recovery. 

Teen Eating Disorder Program: Family/caregiver involvement is required for this program. Wednesday afternoons are designated as "Family Day" and there is required family programming in the afternoon. These groups are in combination with family therapy. 

Young Adult Eating Disorder Program: Family/caregiver involvement is strongly encouraged for this program. Since clients are 18+, they will have to give permission for their family to be involved but clinically it is recommended. There is a designated "Family Day" with family programming happening in the afternoon along with family therapy. 

Helpful Mental Health Tips for Family Members

You may be familiar with mental illnesses and how they affect you, your family, and your loved one. If you are not, here are some helpful tips:

  • Mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are biological brain disorders that interfere with brain chemistry. Chronic mental illnesses are often compared to medical issues, such as Diabetes. 
  • Many mental illnesses have genetic factors that increase one's likelihood of developing the disease. In addition, life stresses may trigger the onset of symptoms.
  • Some people don't believe that you can get better if you have a mental illness. However, that's not true. With appropriate medical care, most people can live healthy, productive lives. Note: just because someone attends treatment, doesn't mean that they will never need mental health care in the future. There may be periods of time that their symptoms are not present, but that doesn't mean that they won't come back. This is because some illnesses are cyclical. 
  • Treatment is often not a straight line of improvement. It may have dips and lulls that seem like your loved one is taking steps backwards. This is not unusual and should not alarm you or cause you to give up hope.
  • Mental illnesses are not anyone's fault. They are not caused by poor parenting or a weak character, nor are they something that someone can "snap out of."
  • Mental illness strikes people from all walks of life, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, education, socioeconomic status, etc.
  • When a loved one has a mental illness, all family members are affected in some way. It's okay to feel a gamut of emotions about the illness (and about your loved one). Help yourself by remembering to practice self-care on a regular basis.
  • If you have the opportunity to go to individual therapy, family therapy, and/or attend support groups, this will likely help you during the more difficult times.
  • Clients in treatment may appear to be selfish. They may need to be in order to best work through and understand their mental illness, triggers and coping strategies.
  • Clients may come home from treatment exhausted (or sound exhausted when you talk to them on the phone). That is because they are. They spend about six hours a day talking about their emotions, their relationships, expectations, future, etc. as well as listening and supporting others in their groups. Often this highlights struggles, disappointments, frustrations and other painful emotions and experiences. That's why when they get home, they may not want to talk about these things right away. 
  • Clients need to heal on their own time. It's important for friends and family to understand that and align their expectations accordingly.
  • Structure, schedules, and self-care are helpful for most people, and certainly true for those with mental illness.
  • It's better to ask, than to ignore.