Acera Health

Why Is It Hard to Discuss Mental Health Issues With Our Families?

Why Is It Hard to Discuss Mental Health Issues With Our Families?

For many people, it’s difficult to talk to their family at the best of times. It’s even harder when you want to discuss something as important as mental health issues. Sometimes a person may be fortunate to have a supportive and loving family. With such support, it’s easier to talk about difficult and sometimes scary topics. For others, mental health is dismissed and ignored at best. At worst, talking about mental health issues in some families can be met with hostility.

But why is such an important topic so difficult to talk about with our families? The answer is complex, but it can be boiled down to stigma, fear, and generational trauma.

Generational Trauma and Its Effects on Mental Health Issues

One factor which makes it difficult to talk about mental health in some families is generational trauma. This is when trauma and/or stress transfer from one generation to another. In many cases, such as with abuse, it can become normalized. There are people today who live their lives thinking it is normal to be insulted, shamed, or harmed by people who claim to love them. This affects the next generation, who then raises their children how they were raised, and onwards. It’s why it’s important to break the cycle of generational trauma – but it isn’t easy.

If a family is sufficiently isolated, a person may not understand that what happens in their family is abnormal until they leave it. Usually, this happens when someone leaves home to pursue higher education. At college, they may discover that their experiences with their family are not healthy or normal. It can be a shocking experience for many people.

Sometimes, they may wish to go back and help their families. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult task to accomplish. Family members in these situations often feel as though there is nothing wrong with them. They may even be in denial, or get angry that someone is trying to rock the boat. In extreme cases, family members may block someone’s attempts to get help for their mental health. This is sometimes done by shaming the individual, taking away vital medications, or withholding transportation and monetary help.

In these cases, it’s best to get help from a professional. Places like Acera Health employ mental health professionals that can help someone figure out how to navigate such situations. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to get help for yourself. Only when you are in a safe and healthy place yourself can you even begin to think about helping someone else.

The Fear and Stigma Around Mental Health Issues

Another reason why speaking with family about mental health can be so difficult is because of stigma. Stigma includes when someone sees you in a negative light because you have a mental health disorder or illness. When a child tells their parent that they feel like they may have issues with their mental health, the parent may feel as though they somehow failed. They may also be in denial and believe that somehow their child is making up symptoms or is overreacting.

Many times, a family member will be afraid of how other people may see them if they have a family member with a mental health problem. So, usually, they feel it is safest to deny what is happening to protect themselves and their family. If they ignore it, then they don’t have to acknowledge there is a problem and feel shame about it.

There is also a problem with fear surrounding the topic of mental health. The media hasn’t helped much by portraying people who struggle with disorders like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia as dangerous. This spreads fear and prevents real people who struggle with these disorders from finding the support they need. Sometimes, a family may ignore a person in their family diagnosed with a “scary” disorder or see them with distrust. But ignoring a problem can make things worse instead of making it go away.

In other cases, a family may love their family member with these disorders very much, but they’re afraid of how they will be treated in society. Again, the media doesn’t help by portraying mental health treatment facilities as being akin to prisons where clients are mistreated regularly.

It’s a flawed way of thinking, but sometimes people don’t think about mental health issues simply because they believe that if they don’t, it won’t affect them. Mental health issues are more common than most people realize. According to the CDC/National Center for Health Statistics, 21.6% of the U.S. adult population from 2019 to 2021 sought mental health treatment. That is nearly a quarter of all adults and is not counting those who haven’t sought treatment. It’s a problem that cannot, and should not, be ignored.

When and Where to Get Help

If at any time you feel as though you are struggling, it’s okay to ask for help. Mental health care facilities employ compassionate people who will not judge you for needing help with your mental health. Facilities such as Acera Health help people unlearn the harmful habits that can come from toxic families. They also offer the tools needed to stay safe and potentially help those they love to find help as well.

Perhaps the most important lesson you will learn in therapy is that you cannot set yourself on fire to keep others warm. Sometimes you will have to disengage from your family. It’s important to learn how to create a healthy support network and recognize those who truly care for you. Remember that you matter, and people who care are waiting to help you and those that you love.

There are many reasons why it is difficult to talk about your mental health with your family. There is generational trauma, stigma, and the desire to ignore issues that cause families to not talk about this important topic. Despite that, it’s important to remember that your experiences are valid and that you are worthy of help. Here at Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we help those needing help find what they need to heal. We offer various treatments to help everyone find the compassionate care and treatment they need to recover. If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health, or if you want to learn how to talk to your family, call (949) 647-4090.

Mickey Webb
Mickey Webb
Marketing Director at Acer Health

Mickey has dedicated nearly 10 years of marketing for various industries with his superior networking, negotiation, and leadership skills. He has over 5 years of management experience including corporate with AT&T. In 2019, he began serving the healthcare industry. He is devoted to establishing promotion and advertising efforts for Acera, to help families and individuals better understand the services we provide. He has strong interpersonal skills, and helps Acera build brand awareness within the behavioral health field. Mickey has helped many individuals find placement in treatment, and will go to any length to make sure they receive the care they deserve.


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