My son has a mental illness and wont get help

How to Help Your Son With a Mental Illness

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“My son has a mental illness and won’t get help. I live in fear of my mentally ill son destroying our family. I’m becoming isolated, frustrated, and overwhelmed.”

When someone that you care about refuses to get professional behavioral health care for a mental health disorder, it is common to be confused, afraid, and even angry. The concerns above are unfortunately common as many people have asked us them before. You can’t solve your son’s problems on your own. However, you can take some important steps to protect them, yourself, and your entire family.

My Son Has a Mental Illness and Won’t Get Help: What Do I Do? 

If your son has a mental illness and won’t get help, here are some beneficial actions and strategies:

  • Educate yourself: Learn about the symptoms they have been exhibiting and other aspects of the disorder they have developed. You can accomplish this by visiting the websites of reputable organizations. In addition, you can consult with professionals, and contact relevant advocacy or support groups. The more you understand about what your son is experiencing, the better prepared you will be to provide meaningful help.
  • Contact treatment providers: This can serve a dual purpose. First, even if your son has a mental illness and won’t get help yet, you can still explore their behavioral health options so you will have the information at hand when they finally decide to enter treatment. Second, the treatment providers that you speak with may be able to provide you with guidance on how to deal with a treatment-resistant individual. 
  • Talk to your son: Express your concerns, emphasize your love and support, and leave no doubt that you are on your son’s side. Resist the urge to lecture or issue ultimatums. These are typically more likely to cause rifts than prompt your son to get help. Your goal should be to maintain open lines of communication, so that your son feels comfortable talking to you. This won’t be one discussion. But, it will be an ongoing conversation that, ideally, will result in your son deciding to get the professional care he needs.
  • Listen to your son: Your son’s willingness (or hesitance) to discuss what they have been experiencing can provide you with valuable insights into their state of mind. If they respond with anger or hostility, remember that these may be symptoms of their mental illness, and not an accurate reflection of their true feelings toward you. Do your best to prevent your discussions from descending into arguments. If your son isn’t capable of having a calm, reasoned conversation at the moment, end the discussion as politely as you can and plan to revisit the matter in the future.
  • Establish boundaries: Not subjecting yourself to anger or hostility is one part of establishing (and maintaining) boundaries. You want to keep your son safe, but you shouldn’t have to jeopardize your well-being to do so. Maintaining appropriate boundaries can also protect you and your son from codependency. Codependency can lead to an unhealthy relationship with your mentally ill son destroying the family. Understand ahead of time that setting and maintaining boundaries can be difficult. However, it is essential for both you and your son. 
  • Get professional help: When you are focused on “my son has a mental illness and won’t get help,” it can be easy to overlook your own needs. Don’t ever forget that your son isn’t the only one who is impacted by his mental health concerns. Just because your son isn’t ready to start treatment, doesn’t mean you should similarly avoid professional help. If you haven’t done so, it can be a great idea for you to see a therapist or counselor. These professionals can help you process your experiences and develop more effective coping skills. In addition, you can learn how to deal with your son in the manner that is best for you both. Remember: You can’t be the most valuable source of support for your son if you have been neglecting your own mental health.  
  • Establish a personal support network: An untreated mental illness can have an isolating effect, both on the person who has the disorder and on their loved ones. Don’t allow your son’s challenges to prevent you from connecting with friends and family members. Having a son with a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of or to feel guilty for. The people who truly care about you will want to support you during this difficult time. Also, maintaining contact with close friends and family members can remind you that your son’s struggles with mental illness are just one part of your life. Even when a loved one is in crisis, you deserve to feel love and support. You also deserve to spend time simply enjoying the company of others. 

What to do when you feel your mentally ill son is destroying the family

Additional Resources for Parents of a Mentally Ill Son

As you work to resolve the challenge of “my son has a mental illness but won’t get help,” here are some additional resources that may be valuable to you:

Contact Montare Behavioral Health About Your Son’s Mental Illness

You shouldn’t have to endure the perpetual worry of your mentally ill son destroying your family. 

Montare Behavioral Health offers a broad scope of options for people whose lives have been disrupted by mental health concerns. Services at our centers in southern California and Arizona include inpatient treatment, outpatient care, and specialized programming for young adults. 

To learn more about how we can help your son, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.