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Taking time to understand the illness, its effects and treatment can be vital for you, your children and the ongoing stability of your family. With effective support and information, it may be quicker, but more importantly, you can continue to carry our your role as a dad.
It's important for the family to know the behaviour of the person with the mental illness may change throughout recovery. Taking time to understand as much as possible about the illness, its effects and treatment can be vital for the wellbeing of your children and the ongoing stability of your family.
With ongoing research into mental illness, there are various talk therapies, medications and treatments available to alleviate symptoms and assist in recovery.
Finding the right treatment can take time. It may be something to decide with your partner. You should tell your health care professionals, including your GP, about any alternative therapies or complementary medication you might think of using.
Practitioners vary in their experience, preferences and recommendations. By informing yourself, you can make decisions in the best interests of you, your partner and your children.
Once you have a better understanding of the illness, it will be easier to discuss its effects and treatments with your children and other family members. Understanding it also helps you manage other peoples expectations too.
There may be a range of advantages or disadvantages in disclosing a mental health issue. Determining what is best for you, your partner and your children—considering their relationships too—will help you decide who to talk with about the illness. Possible advantages and disadvantages of disclosing your (or your partner's) illness are discussed under 'Should you tell others' in our Understanding & Managing Mental Illness information sheet.
Learning to live with, manage and recover from mental illness is an ongoing process. Initially it can be a challenge to accept a diagnosis. Acceptance is a significant first step in the recovery process and can lead to understanding the value of treatment. This can help developing and sticking to a treatment plan.
Sometimes hospitalisation might be part of the recovery for some families. Being prepared for a first time hospital admission, or a repeat-admission, is something useful to think about ahead of time. A parent’s hospitalisation can have a significant impact on children and that can be reduced by planning ahead.
Develop a care plan with your family. If a family member becomes unwell and is temporarily unable to participate in family life, a care plan can help everyone understand what will happen. Having a plan in place can help children feel secure and be prepared for changes, especially when they’ve been involved in developing the plan.
Find out if hospitalisation might be necessary at some point. Get as much information as possible about what to expect, and determine the best way for your children to stay in touch while you (or mum) are in hospital.
Be prepared. Find out about the mental health issue affecting your family, the treatment options and any related effects. Ask different health professionals for their points of view. Ask what you can expect.