When It Comes to Mental Wellness, Park Mental Health Encourages Each Client Recovery Journey to Include Family in the Healing Process

The minds suffering from mental illness are young. In fact, the majority of clients at Park Mental Health's treatment center are between 18 and 26 years old, during which time mental health symptoms become apparent and can begin to worsen, said Park Mental Health Program Director Mikayla Weathers. This is why Park Mental Health is launching its initiative to empower families' involvement in patient recovery.

Because mental health disorders are often coupled with substance abuse, teens often struggle with both, finding a path to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope and, often, a longer road to recovery.

Anyone can develop a mental health problem during their life. An estimated one in four Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Due to the prevalence, prevention is always better sooner than later.

Perhaps the best way to intervene is to teach children how to acknowledge and cope with their emotions, Weathers said, “… to empower people to have boundaries and to speak towards those boundaries.”

This process requires healthy adults who can regulate their own nervous systems so they can tolerate a child who is navigating theirs, she added. It’s much like a discovery process.

Because disorders need to be treated and managed long-term, it’s critical that a client’s loved ones are part of the recovery journey.

“Most of our client’s parents are highly involved in their loved one’s lives and are learning more about the role they play,” Weathers said.

In addition to being commonplace within the home, she said the awareness needs to become routine in educational environments—something that is catching on.

“Schools have been more intentional about adding mindfulness and having discussions about emotions within the curriculum of education in San Diego,” Weathers said. But there is more work to be done.

Weathers said more resources need to be available for clients and professionals. “Those who have to use insurance or don’t have insurance are on long wait lists to see a mental health professional,” she said. “There also isn’t enough funding or support for the professionals to provide the services needed.”

Weathers said it only takes small steps to create a safe place for those with mental health disorders. One simple way is to check any bias and judgment.

“For example, with the homeless person you see on the street talking to themselves—they likely are experiencing psychosis and don’t have the means to see a provider or be in reality enough to know that therapy could be helpful.”

Mental health awareness is about breaking the stigma by not perpetuating the negativity surrounding the struggle itself or feelings in general. “It means advocating for those who have lost the battle of their mental health disorder and continued the practice of ‘walking the walk’ to model mental health wellness,” Weathers said.

Source: Community Associates and Modern Press