Helping other to understand mental health and AOD use (resources and advice wanted)
A family member is in the process of being diagnosed (very complicated).
In particular, she has burnt a lot of bridges with family and friends. Some family members want her to move in with a particular family member, some family members are worried about her, some family members want nothing to do with her and some family members want to control her actions because they don't believe shes in a position to do so.
I think what I'm looking for is;
- how do I explain mental health to people who don't understand?
- what resources can I use to explain the cycle of mental health/AOD?
- how do I explain that she's an adult and trying to control her won't work?
- how do I explain that it will take time for a person to want to accept help and to make changes? not everyone is ready to make changes or want help.
- how do I explain to people with pre-existing mental health that like them she is also struggling and it's not a competition to have worse mental health?
- how do I explain the mental health system? I think they were expected mental health professionals to make her better. I need to get the message across that mental health is a journal, it will take her time, there's waiting lists, the balance between medications and therapy etc.
- In particular, for me, I'm in a position where people are coming for advice, want me to take action or want support. I need help with setting up some good boundaries! I understand the above questions, I need resources and explanation that will help others to understand =)
Any other advice is welcomed =)
Re: Helping other to understand mental health and AOD use (resources and advice wanted)
Hi @WhiteRescue, thank you so much for sharing that with us here. It sounds like you are in a really difficult position. Throughout all of this, you are doing a really amazing job at being understanding, compassionate and helpful. It is so great to see you reaching out for some more resources and support. It might be beneficial for your family members to also seek their own support in order to learn more about mental health and addiction. It can take time, emotional processing and personal experience for people to fully understand addiction and mental health. It seems like there is a lot of pressure on you at the moment. I imagine it would begin to take a toll on your well-being. I am wondering do you have any supports in place at the moment?
Here are some resources I have found below:
- We have an article on 'What to do when someone doesn't want help'.
- SANE - has mental health fact sheets. One example is myths vs. facts which discusses treatment and recovery. There is also information for family and friends.
- SHARC - it includes a counselling support line and resources such as boundaries and stages of change.
- Direct Line - has a counselling service for families or anyone affected by addiction. It also includes tips for families.
- Health direct - refers to what addiction is and includes some resources, including caring for someone with an addiction.
- Counselling Online - has fact sheets on different types of drugs and also includes resources. It also has a telephone line that can be used by family members or the person using drugs.
- Alcohol and Drug Foundation - has a lot of resources, one in particular is for families and it also has a directory for support services.
- Better Health - support for families going through addiction.
- Family Drug Support - it seems to have meetings that you can attend, includes a 'letter to family and friends' which talks about how people change and has coping tips which include setting boundaries and dealing with conflict.
- SMART recovery - has meetings for family and friends.
I hope some of these links help you to find the information you are looking for. Please feel welcome to keep sharing how you are going. Some of this information may not seem entirely relevant though you can adapt it to your situation.. or Google some of the key terms to find other resources
Re: Helping other to understand mental health and AOD use (resources and advice wanted)
Hi @WhiteRescue, I'm sorry you're going through this, AOD is never easy especially when there's a whole network of things and people being affected It sounds like you're coming from a place of a lot of conflict and you're doing your best to be the mature one, which is a lot of pressure for a young person! Are there any other members of your family who are taking your point of view as well who you can rely on?
I feel like @Taylor-RO has given you a lot of amazing resources so I wanted to give a more anecdotal perspective.
How do I explain mental health to people who don't understand?
I think people understand what they relate to. Sometimes, putting a label on things that apply in their own life can help them to see that it is closer to home than they expected. For example, you could say, X (another person who they know perhaps) does this because they're depressed. Because they're depressed, they see the world this way. Because of that, they act in this way. If they got help, it would look like this... I don't necessarily think this will help with people who don't want to understand, but if you have someone who genuinely doesn't know it can help to spell it out
What resources can I use to explain the cycle of mental health/AOD?
Like I said @Taylor-RO has given so many great resources! I also find that finding personal stories of people who have struggled through it (and maybe who have come out the other side through therapy) helps because it gives a point of reference. I know the ABC has published a few articles written by people who struggled with addiction.
How do I explain that she's an adult and trying to control her won't work? How do I explain that it will take time for a person to want to accept help and to make changes? not everyone is ready to make changes or want help.
I put these two together because I think the same advice applies. One thing I saw that really changed my perspective went like this: think about how hard it is to change yourself. Now consider why it's so hard to change another person (especially against their will). Another thing I also found has really helped me is eliminating and calling out the 'should' attitude, because it's a big burden but also extremely unhelpful. She 'should' get help? Unfortunately, even if this is true, she isn't doing that at the moment. But what can we do in the meantime? It can help to take the expectation and judgement out of the picture and make things more practical. And I agree with your comment about not everyone wanting to change- yes, you can give her the information and concern she needs to hopefully take action herself, but it is her own decision at the end of the day (unless she's in danger and someone needs to take emergency action).
How do I explain to people with pre-existing mental health that like them she is also struggling and it's not a competition to have worse mental health?
I think people always struggle with this, especially with AOD because it seems like it's the person's decision to act in this way, rather than it being a way of coping. Sometimes, acknowledging that the person with the pre-existing mental health condition ALSO needs help is a way of diffusing their fear that their mental health is not being addressed themselves. It could sound something like 'yes, I know that's hard for you to deal with, and you really deserve help too. And we can talk about that soon, but at the moment we're focusing on her'. Everyone deserves help, even with minor, major, or 'ugly' mental health problems.
How do I explain the mental health system? I think they were expected mental health professionals to make her better. I need to get the message across that mental health is a journey, it will take her time, there's waiting lists, the balance between medications and therapy etc.
I guess this comes down to education. Firstly, she needs to want to help herself, and therapy will be slower if she's not. It's just like being physically injured: you're given all of the medicine and advice you need, but it's the actions you take outside of the doctor's office that make the difference. The brain is a 'muscle', and when it's been affected by mental health it needs time to heal! And like a physical injury, it isn't always as simple as waiting it out. Medication is also a symptomatic relief most of the time, it takes the edge off the issue and is short-term. However, therapy is a long-term solution where you don't see many short-term gains, but it creates lasting change. If you don't have therapy, the medication isn't going to fix the underlying issues causing the symptoms. If you don't have medication, you may not be able to get into a place where you can start healing. Another thing you could possibly do is explain how each thing she does do in her journey to recovery fits into the bigger picture. Sorry that's a bit of a mess to read
I need help with setting up some good boundaries!
This is so so important! I wanted to first talk about some things that will hopefully help you to get distance from the issue without feeling guilty. Firstly, you don't own the world's, or her, problems. While you are doing your best to support, it really is something that is out of your control to an extent. Extend a hand and take the steps that you can take to give support, but then take a step back and accept if it doesn't work out without feeling guilty or responsible. You're not her or a professional, and you can only be expected to do so much.
If you're talking about setting boundaries with other people as you said, wanting you to give support, advice or take action, I think it's once again important to be realistic about how much you can do, and then stick by the rules of what you know you can and can't do. If you don't want people calling you late at night about things, for example, then you need to communicate this to them, and then follow your own rules and not make exceptions unless absolutely necessary. It feels uncomfortable at first but will make you feel better in the long-term. Boundaries may also fluctuate and that's okay! Finally, it may also help to have people that you can rely on if you can't help. Do you have any family members that you can turn to if you get out of your depth?
I'm sure you know a lot of this yourself but hopefully these are giving you some suggestions for things you can say
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