Young people experience mental health problems within a family (or similar) setting. When the young person is in hospital there is a need to keep contact with family and friends. Family interventions include a range of collaborative strategies, which aim to boost a family’s capacity to cope with the impact of mental illness in a young person. A systemic approach to working with families aims to look at the presenting crisis within the broader context of family relationships.
Young people use friendships to find their own voice, learn about sharing and feel accepted for who they are as a person, rather than who they are as a family member or client.
Building trust and sensitively exploring a young person’s issues within the broader context of their relationships with family and friends, right from admission, can help everyone involved access the therapeutic opportunities on offer – including family and friends. For example, positive behavioural and attitudinal shifts can happen in parents, through them being integrated into the young person’s care plan. It can be a difficult time for parents as, especially for older young people, friendships will become more (or equally) important. Friends usually share similar interests and have the potential to offer the young person a lot of support and understanding. They can even strengthen their sense of security.
Consequently, helping to keep connections alive with significant companionships, while supporting parents, should be a focus. You might like to read more about this in the On and Off the Ward