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Tips on how to Cope with a Parent with a Mental Illness – From a Child’s Perspective

Mental-Health-Month-resized (1)As a child, it can be hard to see your parent going through the symptoms related to their mental illness. Below are 3 tips on how to cope, based on my personal experience.

1. Remember that no family is perfect. Every family experiences their own unique problems and difficulties. It may be hard to deal with your parent at first, but you must realize that every person faces obstacles within their life and this is simply another challenge you must tackle. From a personal perspective, thinking negatively and letting frustration consume your thoughts will do no good. It is important to find the light within the darkness and be supportive of your parent.

2. It’s okay to have your emotional breakdowns, but it’s necessary for you to communicate and express your feelings. You shouldn’t have to feel like having a parent with a mental illness is a heavy burden or a deep dark secret. It’s merely another step in your life that you must bravely overcome. Although you must stay emotionally and mentally strong, talking to people about your parent’s mental illness can relieve a lot of stress and emotions you may be feeling. I’ve always been too embarrassed to tell people about my mother, but after meeting another person who also had a mother with bipolar disorder, I felt like I could relate and share my feelings. For once in my life, I didn’t feel lonely and I was able to relate to someone who had experienced the same thing I did.

3. You should learn to familiarize yourself with your parent’s diagnosis and learn how to respond to them when they are dealing with one of their negative symptoms. There will be good days and bad days, but familiarizing yourself with their mental illness can help you cope and know what to expect. Don’t expect them to solely be by themselves in this treatment process, as you can contribute to their recovery process. Never give up on the idea that your parent will get better because although it may take time, with the right services, such as therapy, they CAN get better.

By: Priscilla Chou

About Priscilla Chou

Priscilla is a second year student at the University of Guelph-Humber. Fascinated with the world behind mental illnesses, she’s an aspiring psychology student who hopes to specialize in clinical psychology.


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