Sharon's Tips for Parents of Young Adults

When your young adult child is hospitalized, get them to sign releases (for sharing information) even if you never need to use them. They can always rescind it. At the time you might not think of that. That’s where you get into trouble when you call the hospital the next day and they can’t even tell you that your child is in the hospital.

Respect the loved one’s decision making. It’s about remembering that they’re an adult. They have the right to make the decision.

Be sure to empower your loved one as much as possible.

When I believe that my family member is making decisions that are not in good judgment, I ask, “Can I offer a different perspective that you could consider?” I think that helps them feel less defensive.

When an adult child comes back home following hospitalization or a crisis, collaborate with them on changes to their room to promote choice and independence.

To cope, it may help to unfollow your family member on social media if their posts are scary or make you worry. Let you family member know you are unfriending them and the reason why.

Utilize resources, classes, and groups from NAMI.

Make friends with others who share your experiences, including parents or people you meet in support groups and classes.

Seek reliable information from legitimate sources online, such as government agency resources and reputable mental health organizations.

Avoid online forums, like an online parent to parent forum because of misinformation. Look for evidence-based practices and facts.

Be transparent when talking with providers. Tell your family member you are calling their provider to communicate concerns. Tell the provider, “You can tell my family member that I called you with this information,” to avoid breaking drown trust.

Screen for suicidal thoughts throughout the recovery process even if your family member does not indicate that they have suicidal thoughts. Remove potential means, especially if the person is impulsive.

For young adults, encourage reliable birth control. Although this may seem awkward, it is not shaming, but helps them to see how this is not the right time for pregnancy.

Provide positive feedback by sharing examples of good decision making and new skill development.

Create a mental illness free zone. “Today we are not going to talk about mental illness.”

Create normal rituals. While talking about mental illness or symptoms is important, it should not be in every conversation. We should be able to have dinners and lunches and just play and goof around without that always being a topic.

Give health systems feedback when the care has been less than helpful. Don’t be afraid to contact the health system.

Be respectful to the providers in the hospital or the clinic. Thank them a lot. Describe how your loved one has benefited from their care. Recognize receptionists and other mental health staff. Have conversations with people because they care about you.

Keep envisioning the future. Identify small steps that lead to recovery.


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