People who have grown up with parents suffering from or being treated for a mental illness are classified as Adult Children of the Mentally Ill or ACMI. Though such people were never really classified as a separate group until lately, they are now being looked upon in a different light. The reason behind this is the fact that the near and dear ones of those who are mentally ill, are affected the most by their psychiatric symptoms. Children are especially susceptible as they are younger and immature and it is easier for them to cast long lasting impressions about people and things. Adult Children of the Mentally Ill have been exposed to the adverse effects of parents who were mentally ill.
There are many mental illnesses that may affect a person during his lifetime. Depression, panic and anxiety disorders as well as severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are quite prevalent. The odds are that one out of ten people will suffer from a mental illness. A house where such disorders exist might often feel chaotic, unpredictable and unstable. Children often sense what is going wrong with their parents and this affects their emotional well being and ability to participate in daily activities. As children, they are not mentally equipped to handle chaos. Children tend to feel overly responsible and may blame themselves for their parent’s behavior. Hence, they tend to feel guilty and may over compensate by developing an exaggerated sense of responsibility and self blame. They may adopt the pleaser role or rescuer role in their families in an attempt to help provide some stability to the family. Alternatively, they may find alternative ways of distracting attention away from their mentally ill parent by acting out. As you can see, Adult Children of the Mentally Ill often grow up to develop some problems of their own that typically interfere with their personal relationships. Some children may also feel helpless and inadequate. Some Adult Children of the Mentally Ill never seem to get over the guilt that they are not able to make things better for themselves or for their parents. There are hundreds of children who drop out of high school and are never able to commit in a relationship. Adult Children of the Mentally Ill might also not have positive experiences with intimate relationships like normal children of their age do. As a result of isolation and failure in life and relationships, Adult Children of the Mentally Ill are inclined to develop problems related to their self image, depression and substance abuse. This makes it even difficult for them to come out of the vicious cycle related to the family history of mental illness.
The problems for Adult Children of the Mentally Ill are primarly emotional. They did not get the stability, love and attention that they deserve. As a result, most of these children, when they grow up as adults, are not able to ‘give’ as they have not ‘received’ love themselves. Adult Children of the Mentally Ill tend to feel defective, over responsible and codependent. They are often depressed, anxious and feel like they are walking on eggshells. Though there are cases where such children grow up as responsible and often successful adults, it cannot be denied that their parent’s troubled life leaves emotional effects on the adult child.
Because our treatment center relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods for Adult Children of the Mentally Ill. The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders. In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies. Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery. Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful. Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.