Building strong relationships is the surest way to happiness. Every day is the right day to reflect on our relationships and consider what we can do to make these relationships stronger and therefore live a happier life.
In the month of February, it is so easy to be reminded of our need for and the importance of relationships. We are surrounded by messages of love. Although these messages emphasize the significance of romantic relationships, let’s remember that our long-term relationships with family and friends are the ones that have built and sustained us. February is a time to acknowledge and celebrate all our relationships and more importantly to reflect on the ones that we may have been neglecting or at the least not nurturing the way we should...
Why do we neglect the ones we care most about at times in our lives when the daily grind and stress get too much? Why do we take out our frustrations and disappointments on those that have been most present for us and most supportive to us...? Well, the answer must be that they are easy targets. Not only are they the most available to us, but they also are sure to continue to love us and not leave us and they are most likely to forgive us.
Show Your Love
Let’s take time this month to acknowledge our family members and friends who are our family. Let’s show them appreciation by giving them more of our time and attention and let’s take responsibility for the work we need to do in order to strengthen our bonds. Stop what you are doing and take time to listen when you are needed by the ones you see and may take for granted every day. Give your loved ones the gift of undivided attention. A 15-minute face-to-face conversation can go a very long way! It’s easier to replace material things when they are lost but impossible to replace those that care the most about you.
The significance of the healing role of a strong bond with friends or family members is demonstrated best in the context of illness or life challenges.
Love Can Heal
Whether it is a physical or emotional illness one faces, having a supportive network makes a significant difference in a more successful recovery. We are all aware of the positive effect of a maternal bond in a newborn thriving. The same concept holds true in older children and adults with physical or mental challenges. Those without an emotionally supportive network, tend to have a worse prognosis for a successful recovery from serious injury or illness.
For those of us lucky enough, this network is our immediate family, parents, children, siblings and grandparents. Those living away from home may have a close network of friends to rely upon for support.
Effects On The Caregiver
The benefit of a supportive network is easy to see and appreciate when considering the patient, but let’s consider the effects on the care provider.
In the case of serious or chronic illness, the negative impact and burden of being a caregiver can go unappreciated by the patient and unnoticed and untreated by health care providers. It’s important to recognize that effective and compassionate care for the patient must also take into consideration caring and considering the physical and emotional well-being of the caregiver.
Taking Stress Out On Loved Ones
Within the context of family, when a person is emotionally or physically distressed, their tendency is to take for granted or mistreat family members closest to them. Anger, frustration and disappointment tend to be directed towards those closest to us who have the most love and attachment for us. It is my hope that this month we can take pause, recognize, and express appreciation for our loved ones providing care to our family members.
Everyone Benefits From Compassion
In a healthy, compassionate society, individuals, families, and communities benefit from supportive environments that promote their mental well-being and reduce their risk for mental health and substance use problems at every stage of life. In a family-centred approach, individuals needing treatment are seen within the context of their families and communities. Families are recognized as being experts on their own needs and are viewed as partners in any decision-making and planning.
Since people with mental health and substance use challenges are often cared for by family members, recognizing the importance of the role that family members play, and considering the needs of these family members, leads to better outcomes. This approach also helps mitigate the negative effects on the health, well-being, and functioning of other family members and the family.
Mental Health And Substance Abuse
Every year, about twenty percent of British Columbians will experience significant mental health and/or substance use problems that will interfere with their quality of life and general functioning. Longitudinal studies have shown that the risk of developing mental illness among children whose parents have a mental illness ranges from 41% to 77%. It’s easy to see then that providing support to ensure healthy and positive parent/child relationships, especially early in the child’s life, can reduce the risk of future problems across generations, and serve to strengthen protective familial bonds.
Beyond the parent-child relationship, the needs of all other members of the family also need to be considered. The ultimate goal should be to prevent the experience of a mental health and/or substance use problem in a family from creating similar problems for other family members. Consider here the potential effects on the whole family with a child with mental health or substance use disorder including the effect on the health of each parent individually, on the marital relationship, and on the health of all other children in the family.
If you have serious or immediate concerns, talk to a doctor, mental health centre, hospital emergency department (9-1-1) or one of these crisis phone lines, internet chat, and/or text support:
- Suicide Crisis: 1 800 SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
- Mental health issue: 310-6789 (24 hours)
- Youth in BC
Child & Youth Mental Health Walk-in Intake Clinics:
Learn more about our Walk-in Intake Clinics and find a location near you.
More Help And Support
You don’t have to handle this alone - check out these helpful resources: