Step #1: Know Your Family Mental Health History
Problems with the mind and emotions can be influenced by genetic factors, so it is important to gain an understanding of your family history in this area. (Watch this 35 second video for a more complete explanation.) Here are some suggestions and tools to help you. Use the Basic Steps if you are limited in time and the Extended Steps if you have more time to invest. This will give you a better understanding of how to work with your children.
Write down any experiences you or your spouse have had
with anxiety, depression, or other challenges with your mind and emotions.
Think about any problems that you have seen in your parents and write them down.
Ask your parents or other relatives about any problems that your grandparents or great-grandparents had.
Review your list and use it as a guide as you learn more
about mental health.
NOTE: A useful tool in working through steps #1-3 is through an online Mental Health Family Tree Builder. You will have the opportunity to print your family tree in either chart or tree form.
Use the following link to view online mental health evaluations and learn more about possible areas of struggles. Identify areas that you have experienced. Write down what you and your spouse learn.
Encourage your parents to take the same online evaluations
and write down what they have experienced. If they are not able or willing, take the evaluation on their behalf, answering
the questions as if you were them.
Ask your parents to take the evaluation on behalf of their parents so you can learn about your grandparents. If possible, do the same for your great-grandparents.
Tabulate your results and make a list of topics you need to study further.
A couple years before our son's death, we learned we have a family history of struggles with depression and anxiety. Had we known the simple advice given on this page, we might have realized that this could have been a factor in his behavior and obtained appropriate help for him. As parents, we also have identified struggles that we have that could have been inherited by our son. The simple fact that people do experience problems with how their mind functions and that these problems may be inherited, should make us open to learn more about these problems. We can be aware of symptoms and educate our children so they can be prepared to face similar battles in their life.
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