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To The Family and Friends of Those With Mental Illness

To The Family/Friends of Those With Mental Illness,

You are enough and it isn’t your fault.  I am so sorry that our society, your family member, and perhaps even their mental health providers, have blamed you for your loved ones struggles.  They are not your fault and they are not the ill ones fault.  Mental illness is an unfortunate happenstance that strikes people across all demographic ranges.  I wish I had an answer for why mental illness strikes some and not others; sometimes, it seems as random as cancer.

I am deeply saddened for you, as I know that you are likely traumatized by your experience. Loving someone who is chronically mentally ill and has perhaps even been self-harming and/or suicidal takes a toll on all involved.   Those who have not experienced it do not know the fear of the unknown as it relates to someone you love’s mental well-being.  Not only are family members often experiencing their own trauma, depression and anxiety…they are asked to be the police, detectives, first-responders and therapists of the mentally ill person.

I was recently reflecting on how we are quick to offer help to parents with young children when they are struggling (book recommendations, casseroles, free babysitting) and yet people who have a child with mental health problems do not tend to feel safe mentioning the struggles for fear of judgement.  Think about it: if a friend of yours admitted that their teen was actively self-harming, would you offer them respite? Would you stop by with food? Would you tell them what books and blogs to read?

Current stats show that 1 in 12 youth have made an attempt at suicide in the last year. 17% of high schoolers have seriously considered suicide in the last year, 13% have a plan. Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death from ages 10-14 and 15-34 years old. Yes…TEN-year-olds commit suicide.  Current stats on self-harm shows that 35-40% of adolescents engage in self-harm.  Self-harm raises the risk of suicide 10-fold.  These numbers continue to be growing…

Let’s consider for a moment to band together and love on each other.  We CANNOT ignore this any longer.  If you don’t know someone who is struggling with their mental well-being, it is only because they are too afraid to be honest.  If you know a parent of a teen, there is a very high change that their child is struggling with their stress levels.  Consider giving them a hug and letting them know that they are doing a great job, they are enough and that you love them.

Sincerely, with all of my warmest regards…

Alyx

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