Kim Muench, Becoming Me Thought Leader
Help! My 22-year-old bipolar son who lives with us won’t take his medication or seek therapy. What can a parent do?
Eleven Strategies To Help Your Bipolar Child:
Coping with a 22-year-old bipolar son who refuses medication and therapy can be an incredibly challenging and distressing situation for any parent. Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health condition that requires careful management, and the refusal to engage in treatment can exacerbate the difficulties. Here are some strategies to consider when dealing with this challenging situation:
1. Educate Yourself:
Gain a solid understanding of bipolar disorder, its symptoms, and the potential consequences of untreated or poorly managed symptoms. Knowledge is empowering, and it will help you communicate more effectively with your son about the importance of treatment.
“Be empathetic and avoid blaming language.”
2. Open Communication:
Create a safe and non-judgmental space for open communication. Express your concern for his well-being and share your observations about how his behavior impacts himself and the family. Be empathetic and avoid blaming language.
3. Encourage Professional Assessment:
Encourage your son to see a mental health professional for a thorough assessment. A licensed psychiatrist can provide an accurate diagnosis, evaluate the severity of symptoms, and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.
4. Involve Him in Decision-Making:
Include your son in the decision-making process regarding his treatment. Discuss the potential benefits and drawbacks of various treatment options, allowing him to feel a sense of control and ownership over his mental health care.
5. Explore Medication Options:
Work with a psychiatrist to explore different medication options. Some individuals may experience side effects with certain medications, and finding the right balance can take time. Be patient and supportive during this process.
“Sometimes, hearing about positive outcomes can motivate someone to consider a similar path.”
6. Highlight Success Stories:
Share success stories of individuals with bipolar disorder who have benefited from treatment and therapy. Sometimes, hearing about positive outcomes can motivate someone to consider a similar path.
7. Offer Emotional Support:
Let your son know that you are there for him emotionally. Offer a listening ear without judgment, and validate his feelings and experiences. Emotional support can create a foundation for him to consider treatment as a positive step.
8. Seek Family Therapy:
Consider family therapy as a way to address the impact of bipolar disorder on the entire family dynamic. A therapist can provide guidance on effective communication strategies and help family members better understand and support each other.
9. Connect with Support Groups:
Encourage your son to join support groups for individuals with bipolar disorder. Hearing from others who share similar experiences can be both validating and motivating.
10. Set Boundaries:
While offering support, it’s essential to establish clear boundaries. Communicate the impact of his behavior on the family and establish guidelines for maintaining a healthy living environment. Set personal boundaries for yourself in terms of what you will and won’t do, what you will and won’t provide.
11. Emergency Plan:
Develop an emergency plan in case your son’s condition worsens. This plan might include contacts for crisis intervention, local mental health services, or a hospital emergency room.
Journey With Bipolar Disorder:
Remember that every individual’s journey with bipolar disorder is unique, and progress may take time. If your son remains resistant to treatment, it may be beneficial for you to seek guidance from a mental health professional or counselor to navigate the complexities of this challenging situation. Additionally, consider joining a support group for parents of individuals with bipolar disorder to share experiences and gain insights from others who have faced similar challenges.
About the Author:
Kim Muench (pronounced minch, like pinch with an “m”) is a Jai (rhymes with buy) Institute for Parenting Certified Conscious Parenting Coach who specializes in working with mothers of adolescents (ages 10+). Knowing moms are the emotional barometer in their families, Kim is passionate about educating, supporting and encouraging her clients to raise their children with intention and guidance rather than fear and control. Kim’s three plus decades parenting five children and years of coaching other parents empowers her to lead her clients into healthier, happier, more functional relationships with compassion and without judgment.