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Inviting family members to voluntarily promote behavioral health

December 24, 2015 0 Comments

volunteering family

“It takes a village to raise a child.” – African Proverb

The role of family support in restoring and maintaining behavioral health and recovery cannot be overvalued. However, family members are often traumatized, frightened, angry and disillusioned after unsuccessfully trying to help their loved one by themselves. The period after treatment is crucial for maintaining recovery and promoting behavioral health. Recruiting as many family members and supportive others in reinforcing a new way of life helps the entire family.

Parents sometimes feel alone after their son returns home from treatment. Other family members might seem nowhere to be found during this important juncture in time. Often, fear, confusion, resentments or other reasons keep them away. Scientists have explored these behaviors and barriers, and have found that the reasons are often very simple and manageable.

Insight from research

A focus group study involving family members and significant others of those with severe mental illness examined common themes that arose during group sessions with significant others and family members. Kelly Aschbrenner, Ph.D., and her colleagues at Dartmouth Center for Aging Research, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, published their study in the November 2012 issue of the journal Health & Social Work. They discovered what promoted family participation in healthy behaviors and what the barriers to participation were.

First, the families in the study reported that understanding the challenges of behavioral illness and improving relationships with their family member or significant other was helpful. Another interesting finding was that families reported the most helpful in facilitating positive changes was to actually participate in daily exercise and healthy meals along with their loved one. It would seem that perhaps participating in daily and healthy behaviors together would, in turn, improve relationships.

Partner reliability and desirability were reportedly factors that affected progress for significant others. Major barriers reported by families were scheduling issues and lack of financial resources. Although time and money are so often barriers to personal growth in general in today’s society, there are ways to promote health in any case. Recruiting as many family members as possible divides the time and financial burden, and provides a support network for all.

Engaging family members and supportive others

The following are recommended steps to take toward engaging family members and supportive others to voluntarily participate in behavioral health:

The rewards of working together

Improved relationships, lower stress and better communication are the rewards for families when promoting behavioral health for loved ones. Regular sleep and exercise habits along with regular, nutritious meals as a family improve the health and well-being of all who choose to participate. Working together allows everyone to make healthy changes that last a lifetime.

About us

At White River Academy, we understand the tragedies and triumphs of behavioral health disorders in the young. Our program for young men provides relief and ongoing assistance for those who are struggling with behavioral problems, mental illness, substance use disorders and co-occurring conditions. We also support the families who love them. For more information on helping a loved one who is struggling, please call our 24/7 helpline today.

Written by Dana Connolly, Ph.D., Sovereign Health Group medical writer

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We would like to thank all the wonderful staff at WRA for the great parent weekend. We enjoyed it and felt that we learned valuable insights on Positive Peer Culture and the values we must have and the importance of family commitment to each other...


 
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