Why does my parent have a mental illness?

Reflective teenage girl

There are lots of reasons why your parent may have a mental illness

Mental illness is not caused by one specific thing. It is usually caused by a combination of things, including:

  • The brain working in a different way
  • Lots of extra stress or worries
  • Being upset for so long that a person ends up feeling like they can't cope
  • Using drugs that didn't come from a doctor or chemist may also trigger mental illness.

This video about mental illness can help you to understand what people think causes it.

Will I get a mental illness? 

No one knows why my Mum got sick. But they think it had something to do with the hard times she had when she was growing up. She's pretty good now she has medication and a support group that help her. I do some stuff around the house when she does overdo it and needs some help.

I get worried sometimes that I'm gonna be like her. Heaps of my Mum's family have mental illness. But I haven't had the other things she's gone through and I also know who to call if I need help.
Shane, 14

  • Some young people worry about getting a mental illness like their parent.
  • Just because your parent has a mental illness doesn't mean you will end up with the same thing. Your parent's mental illness is a result of many things that have happened in their life. Remember, you are a unique individual from your parent, and your life and experiences are different! 

 

What if I'm really worried about my own mental health?

  • If you are really worried that you are experiencing some of the same things you notice in your parent, it might be because you're going through something that's hard to cope with and may need some help.
  • Remember, everyone gets sad, can't sleep, has things go badly or feels scared. It's a normal part of life.
  • The difference for people with a mental illness, is that they can experience these feelings most of the time and very intensely. This can make it hard or sometimes impossible for them to carry on with everyday living.
  • If you are feeling things are getting too much, talk to your parents, a doctor, or someone at school. You can also call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
  • Read more about getting help here.

And remember to look after yourself! It's really important. Check out this short video that explains what you really need to know if you have a parent with a mental illness, and what can help to make you feel better.  

Koolta - rapping about having a parent with a mental illness

Check it out.

What does it feel like to have depression?

This video explains what it feels like for someone who experiences depression.