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The Role Of Family In Teen Mental Health Treatment

By March 19, 2023May 10th, 2023Mental Health

Family relationships can have a profound effect on mental health, behavior, as well as the physical heath of a teenager. Parental attachment, for example, is predictive of numerous developmental outcomes in children, such as general well-being, self-esteem, social competence with peers, problem-solving abilities, academic success, behavioral outcomes, resilience, and more. There is empirical evidence that substantiates the formative interrelationships between attachment and child psychopathology, inflammation and health, neurobiology, school readiness and empathy, compassion, and altruism. As is true with all things in life, family can have both positive and negative effects on young people’s mental health and can play an integral role in a teenager’s mental health treatment process.

Family Therapy

Treatment plans for teenagers with mental health disorders typically include some form of family involvement, such as family therapy. When family relationships are stable and supportive, they can have positive effects on one’s mental health, as they can provide resources that can help a family member learn to cope with stress, engage in healthier behaviors, and cultivate improved self-esteem. In a healthy family unit, family members can rely on each other for emotional support, economic support, and companionship. Family behavior therapy (FTB) can teach a family unit helpful tools and strategies for navigating family conflict, improving communication methods, and supporting the teen’s mental health treatment plan. Through family therapy, family members have an emotionally safe environment to address specific issues regarding an adolescent’s mental health challenges that may be interfering with the functioning, cohesiveness, and/ or health of the family unit. It can illuminate and correct dysfunctional family patterns and work to disintegrate unhealthy family dynamics, all of which can positively contribute to a teenager’s mental health recovery prognosis.

How Important Is Family Engagement?

In 2001, the Report of the Surgeon Generals’ Conference on Children’s Mental Health first identified family involvement as a guiding principle to improve children’s mental health services and outcomes. The following components are vital to successful family engagement in teenage mental health treatment plans, provided by a variety of sources:

  • Individualized and addressed families’ particular needs, concerns, and barriers.
  • Intensive, addressing engagement at multiple time-points, with multiple family members, and in multiple ways as families progressed in treatment.
  • Developed from a strong theoretical framework.
  • Integrated seamlessly into the underlying treatment or prevention program structure.

Families’ ambivalence about treatment can be minimized through employing a personalized and collaborative approach that conveys respect and understanding for families’ struggles surrounding treatment. When one member of a family system is suffering, it affects the entire system, which is why engaging families in the mental health treatment process of a teen is advantageous.

For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, the long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


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