Having mental health problems alters completely the

Having a family member with a mentaldisorder causes significant changes in family dynamics and routines. The dailyliving with someone with mental health problems alters completely the everydaylife of the whole family. These alterations destabilize family structure andfunctioning, requiring adaptation and reorganization around the needs of theindividual who needs care. For instance, when the first signs of illness beginto appear, it is natural for the family to feel apprehension and disorientationabout what is happening. It is also common for people to ask themselves if itis a phase, as well as different perspectives, with some considering that thereare reasons for concern and others that devalue the mental problem.

All these concerns,associated with the lack of information about this subject, make it difficultto identify the problem and access to skilled care.  Therefore, when the problem is identified, strongemotional reactions are the most common way to respond. Feelings of guilt,anger, and fear are frequent and have direct implications for the well-being andrelationship of everybody. Effectively, each person’s understanding of theproblem may translate into different attitudes to it, in conflicts ordetachment among family members. Additionally, when multiple people areinvolved, it may be difficult to reconcile care and attention, creatingimbalances in responding to the needs of the different family members.

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Likewise,the relationship with the extended family may also change, as everyone willhave an opinion on the causes and appropriate response to the problem, whichmay result in both support and stress for caregivers. The increased demands oncare, coupled with the lack of understanding of those who relate to the family,can result in the progressive isolation of the family and a feeling of burden. The burden of family can happen whendealing with problems and difficulties encountered in the daily living with theill person, also causing negative feelings regarding the whole situation.Consequently, the distress experienced by the family, faced with the constantmoments of tension and restrictions in their social lives, can provoke feelingsof guilt, anger, helplessness, sadness, loneliness and shame. For instance, theseexperiences of instability, insecurity, conflicts in family relationships andnegative feelings, demonstrate the need for these families to be alsoaccompanied by mental health services.

Considering that, this allows theservices to develop interventions pondering the difficulties of the family in apersonalized and contextualized way, since it is essential that the servicesunderstand and recognize the importance of the role played by the family in patientrehabilitation.  Itis important to note that when we refer to mental health problems we may betalking about problems triggered by predictable transitions or significantevents of life, which, if it is the case, the problems are short-lived.However, there are other mental problems, with a more complex development, thatwill pose life-long challenges. 

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