When someone has a serious mental illness, it can be hard on the whole family. You want to help your family member get better, but may not know how. Family psycho-education addresses exactly that and equips people with a way through which they can help their family member get better, and have better knowledge of the illness and its coping skills, and to enable families to work together more effectively to address the challenges of living with mental illnesses.At the Recovery House, the clinical team and staff work in partnership with clients and their families to inform and educate; suggest practical solutions to challenges; and provide emotional support.
Family psycho-education and support is a core component of The Recovery House’s rehabilitative and treatment approach in which every individual and family (whether outpatient, day care or residential treatment) is required to participate. The basis of psycho-education is thatclients and their families meet with our clinical team regarding mental illness, medication, substance use, and management of stress for the caregiver. Family meetings are held at least once a month.If families are overseas or in another town, family meetings are conducted via Skype or over the phone, upon mutual convenience.
The model is not only designed to empower families to utilize all of the clients’ skills and input and developing plans to accomplish goals together, but also to alleviate any stress or agitation on the part of the families, and to enable them to better understand the condition and the struggles that accompany an individual who has a mental illness and may not be capable of expressing themselves, from a framework the families may not have known earlier.
Research shows that a person with a mental illness is more likely to recover and re-integrate into community life if they and their family are actively involved in their own treatment and care. It is our experience that skilled and empathetic individual staff members working together with the client and their families can make a difference. The outcomes for caregivers are positive in four main areas: decreased burden, decreased psychological distress, increased coping and increased social connection.
Through relationship building, education, collaboration, problem solving, and an atmosphere of hope and partnership, psycho-education helps clients and their families to:
• Learn about the mental illness that is impacting their family member.
• Reduce tension and stress in the family.
• Provide social support and encouragement.
• Focus on the future and move away from the past.
• Be able to look at their family member through a different lens, one that is not colored by their illness;
• Enable family members to relinquish the role of crisis responder and regain the role of family member.
• Increase acceptance for mental illnesses amongst their family, community and eventually and hopefully, their society.