Having a sibling with a mental illness can have profound effects on both the affected sibling and their family members, particularly their siblings. The emotional, social, and financial impacts of having a mentally ill sibling can be significant and complex. By learning more about how mental illness affects siblings, it can help families determine the most appropriate treatment options for everyone.

Mental Illness Statistics

NAMI reported the following mental health facts:  

  • 43.8 million adults experience mental illness annually
  • One in five adults experiences a mental illness
  • Ten million adults in the U.S. live with a serious mental illness
  • One-half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14
  • Three-quarters of all mental illnesses begin by age 24

Regarding children and adolescent mental health, almost 20 percent of those aged 3 to 17 years old have a mental, behavioral, developmental, or emotional disorder, as reported by NIH. In addition, suicidal rates among teenagers have increased by more than 40 percent in 2019 compared to 2009. Furthermore, the number of children and adolescents diagnosed with depression increased by 27 percent from 2016 to 2020.

Effects of Mental Illness on Pre-Teen Siblings

The effects of mental illness on pre-teen siblings can be incredibly challenging. Pre-teens are still developing their understanding of the world and themselves, which can make it difficult for them to comprehend and cope with a sibling with mental illness issues.

They may experience confusion, guilt, fear, or anger as they struggle to accept their sibling’s behavior changes and emotional challenges. Additionally, pre-teen siblings may also face increased responsibilities at home or feel neglected as parents need to focus more attention on the sibling with a mental illness.

Effects of Mental Illness on Adolescent Siblings

The effects of teen mental illness on siblings can be profound and long-lasting. Adolescents are at a critical stage of development, struggling with emotional and hormonal changes from puberty while navigating their own identities, social relationships, and emotional well-being.

Having a sibling with a mental illness can disrupt these developmental processes and impact the adolescent sibling in various ways. Adolescent siblings may experience feelings of confusion, sadness, guilt, anger, or shame about their sibling’s condition.

They may also feel overwhelmed by the added responsibilities or changes in family dynamics that come with supporting a sibling with mental illness. Additionally, they may experience feelings of isolation, loneliness, and neglect by their parents.

Effects of Mental Illness on Young Adult Siblings

The effects of mental illness on young adult siblings are often complex and have impacts on their lives. Young adults are usually already focused on their own educational, career, and personal aspirations. Yet, they must also also deal with the challenges presented by a sibling’s mental health issues.

This can cause heightened levels of stress, anxiety, or depression, affecting their mental health as they try to support their mentally ill sibling while balancing their own responsibilities and needs. They may also feel pressure to act as caregivers or mediators within the family dynamic, which can be emotionally taxing and overwhelming. Unfortunately, this could lead to relying on alcohol and substances as a coping mechanism and, eventually, addiction.

Effects of Mental Illness on Adult Siblings

The effects of mental illness on adult siblings can be far-reaching and enduring, impacting various aspects of their lives. As adults, they typically have established careers, families, and responsibilities of their own, making it even more difficult to balance these commitments with the needs of a sibling with mental illness.

Adult siblings can experience feelings of guilt, worry, anxiety, or helplessness as they witness their sibling’s struggles with mental health issues. They may also face challenges in maintaining boundaries within the relationship and setting realistic expectations for themselves regarding support and caregiving.

Additionally, adult siblings might have to deal with complex family dynamics related to caring for a mentally ill sibling while also managing relationships with parents or other family members who may have differing opinions on how best to address the situation. This can lead to increased stress or conflict within the family.

How Outpatient Mental Health Treatment in Atlanta Helps the Entire Family

Outpatient mental health treatment in Atlanta can have a positive impact on the entire family by providing support, education, and resources to help them face the challenges of having a loved one with mental illness, along with these benefits:

  • Outpatient programs provide education about mental illness, including symptoms, treatments, and coping strategies. This can help family members better understand their loved one’s condition while also learning how to support them effectively.
  • Outpatient programs offer family therapy sessions, during which all members can participate in discussions facilitated by a therapist. Family therapy improves communication, strengthens relationships, and addresses any conflicts between family members.
  • Outpatient treatment programs provide access to support groups both for the sibling with a mental illness and other family members. This allows family members to share their experiences, receive professional guidance, and connect with others facing similar challenges.
  • Through outpatient treatment, families can learn practical skills and techniques to manage stress, set boundaries, communicate effectively with their loved ones experiencing mental health issues, and practice self-care to maintain their own emotional well-being.

Get Help For You and Your Sibling with Mental Illness in Atlanta Today

When you have a sibling with a mental illness, you are not alone. Get the support and resources you need at New View Wellness in Atlanta. Our outpatient treatment programs offer personalized care, family therapy sessions, support, and coping skills development to help you and your sibling overcome this difficult time. Contact us today to take the first steps toward healing and improved mental health for your sibling.