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Psychiatric Rehabilitation Specialists
Established in 1977

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How to Cope with a Grown Child with Mental Illness

Parenting grown children with mental illness presents a unique set of challenges that require understanding, patience, and support. At Life Adjustment Team, we recognize the critical importance of assisting parents in understanding and navigating the complexities of their adult children’s mental health struggles. Our dedicated Team is committed to providing compassionate support and guidance to both adult children and their parents as they cope with the challenges of mental health issues. 

Parents of grown children dealing with mental illness often find themselves in unfamiliar terrain, facing fears and uncertainties and grappling with emotions ranging from worry to frustration. Questions like, “What to do when your adult child is suffering?” and “How do I stop enabling my grown child with mental illness?” can keep parents up at night. The challenges may include supporting their child while also respecting their autonomy, advocating for appropriate treatment and care, and managing their own emotional well-being amidst the turmoil.

Seeking support and assistance is crucial for parents coping with a grown child’s mental illness. Recognizing that you are not alone in this journey and that resources are available to help you navigate these challenges is essential. Whether connecting with support groups, seeking therapy, or accessing professional assistance for your child, reaching out for support can make a significant difference in your ability to cope and support your grown child effectively.

Understanding Mental Illness in Grown Children

The following are some of the most common mental illnesses experienced by adults:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders (e.g., borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder)

Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness:

Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary depending on the specific condition but may include:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Mood disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Impulsivity or risky behavior
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Suicidal thoughts or self-harm behaviors
  • Excessive worry or fear
  • Persistent sadness or hopelessness

Parents should pay attention to any significant changes in their grown child’s behavior or functioning and seek professional help if they observe concerning symptoms.

The effects of untreated mental illness can be extremely challenging for both the individual and their family. Grown children with mental health disorders may struggle to maintain relationships, hold down jobs, or manage daily responsibilities. Additionally, families may experience increased stress, strain on relationships, and financial difficulties as they navigate the challenges associated with their child’s mental illness. Understanding the nature of mental illness and its potential effects can help parents better support their grown children and address their needs effectively.

How to Approach Your Child

Choose the Right Time

Timing is crucial when initiating conversations about mental health. Look for moments when your child is relaxed and receptive, such as during a quiet evening at home or during a leisurely walk. Avoid discussing sensitive topics during times of stress or conflict.

Express Empathy

Start the conversation by expressing empathy and understanding towards your child’s emotions. Use phrases like “I can see that you’re going through a tough time” or “It sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed.” This helps your child feel heard and validated.

Listen Actively

Active listening involves not only hearing what your child is saying but also understanding their perspective. Maintain eye contact, nod in agreement, and provide verbal affirmations like “I understand” or “That must be really difficult.” Avoid interrupting or offering unsolicited advice.

Avoid Judgment 

It’s essential to create a safe and non-judgmental space for your child to express themselves. Refrain from criticizing their thoughts or behaviors, even if you disagree with them. Instead, focus on validating their feelings and experiences.

Offer Support 

Let your child know that you’re there to support them unconditionally. Reassure them that you’re willing to help them navigate their challenges and find solutions together. Offer hugs or comforting gestures to convey your physical support.

Encourage Professional Help 

While you can provide emotional support, it’s essential to recognize the limitations of your role. Encourage your child to seek professional assistance from therapists, counselors, or mental health professionals who can offer specialized support and guidance.

Respect Boundaries

Respect your child’s boundaries and avoid pushing them to share more than they’re comfortable with. Let them dictate the pace of the conversation and reassure them that they can open up whenever they’re ready. Creating a safe and non-threatening environment encourages openness and honesty.

Be Patient 

Healing from mental health challenges takes time, so it’s crucial to be patient with your child’s progress. Avoid placing unrealistic expectations on them or pressuring them to “get better” quickly. Instead, offer ongoing support and understanding as they navigate their journey towards recovery.

Common Mental Health Conditions Treated by Life Adjustment Team


Anxiety disorders can manifest in various ways, including excessive worry, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances. Some people may also experience physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, and gastrointestinal issues. Anxiety can significantly impact adult-parent relationships and daily functioning. Grown children may struggle with maintaining healthy relationships due to excessive worry or fear. They may avoid social situations or isolate themselves, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Additionally, anxiety can interfere with work or academic performance, affecting their overall quality of life.

It is important for parents to learn to recognize the signs of anxiety in their grown children and to provide the necessary support and intervention if the situation warrants it. Life Adjustment Team offers specialized services tailored to help individuals manage anxiety effectively. Through therapy, support groups, and personalized treatment plans, we empower adults to overcome their anxiety and lead fulfilling lives.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by fluctuations in mood, which include manic and depressive episodes. Manic episodes are marked by periods of elevated mood, increased energy, and impulsivity, while depressive episodes involve feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low energy. These mood swings can have profound effects on individuals and their families.

Mood stabilization is of critical importance in managing bipolar disorder and reducing the frequency and severity of mood swing episodes. A person’s medication adherence is one of the most crucial factors in stabilizing their mood and preventing relapses during their treatment. Life Adjustment Team offers comprehensive treatment options for individuals with bipolar disorder, including medication management, therapy, and psychoeducation. Through our holistic approach, we help individuals and their families navigate the challenges of bipolar disorder and achieve stability and wellness.


Symptoms of depression may include persistent sadness, irritability, or feelings of emptiness. Individuals may also experience a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed and have difficulty concentrating or making decisions. Cognitive symptoms can manifest as negative thoughts or self-critical beliefs, while physical symptoms may include changes in appetite or weight, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.

Parents should be aware that depression is a common mental health condition that can affect individuals of all ages. With appropriate interventions, such as therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, depression is highly treatable. Life Adjustment Team offers comprehensive treatment options for individuals struggling with depression, including therapy sessions, medication management, and support groups. By addressing depression early and seeking professional help, parents can help their children manage their symptoms and greatly improve their quality of life.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders like major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and persistent depressive disorder affect individuals’ emotional states and functioning to varying degrees. Understanding these disorders is crucial for parents to recognize the signs and symptoms in their grown children and provide appropriate support.

  • Cyclothymic disorder is characterized by fluctuations in mood that are less severe than those seen in bipolar disorder but still disrupt daily functioning. Individuals with cyclothymic disorder may experience periods of hypomania and mild depression, often cycling between these states over time. 
  • Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, involves chronic feelings of depression lasting for two years or more, with symptoms that may not be as severe as major depressive disorder but can still significantly impact functioning.

Mood disorders can have profound effects on interpersonal relationships and family dynamics. Life Adjustment Team offers holistic therapy and support services tailored to individuals with mood disorders, assisting them in managing their symptoms and developing healthy coping strategies. Through encouraging effective treatment and support, parents can play a vital role in helping their children manage their mood disorders and lead fulfilling lives.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) performed in response to these thoughts. Common obsessions may include fears of contamination, doubts about safety or harm, or intrusive thoughts of a violent or sexual nature. Compulsions often involve repetitive behaviors such as excessive hand washing, checking, or arranging objects in a specific order.

These obsessions and compulsions can cause significant distress and interference in daily life for individuals with OCD and their families. Parents may feel helpless or overwhelmed by their child’s distress and the impact of OCD on family dynamics. Evidence-based treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP), are highly effective in managing OCD symptoms. Life Adjustment Team offers therapy and support services tailored to individuals with OCD and their families, providing them with the tools and strategies needed to manage symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are enduring patterns of inner experience and behavior that deviate significantly from societal expectations, typically manifesting in adolescence or early adulthood. They can profoundly impact individuals’ relationships with others, including their families. Common types of personality disorders include borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and avoidant personality disorder (AvPD), among others.

Having an adult child with a personality disorder can be challenging, but there are strategies parents can employ to navigate these difficulties successfully. Setting boundaries is crucial to protect one’s own well-being and prevent enabling unhealthy behaviors. Parents should also practice self-care by seeking support from therapists or groups and prioritizing their mental and emotional health.

Life Adjustment Team offers therapy and support services tailored to families affected by personality disorders, providing them with the tools and resources needed to cope with the challenges they face. 


Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder characterized by a range of symptoms that can significantly impact an individual’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Understanding these symptoms is crucial for parents to recognize when their grown children may need professional help.

  • Hallucinations: Schizophrenia triggers sensory perceptions without external stimuli, such as hearing voices, seeing things, or feeling unreal sensations, disrupting daily life.
  • Delusions: False beliefs, such as persecution or grandiosity, that persist despite evidence to the contrary can lead to irrational behavior and strained relationships.
  • Disorganized Thinking: Cognitive dysfunction causes difficulty in organizing thoughts, forming coherent sentences, and maintaining logical thinking, impacting communication and daily functioning.

Treatment for schizophrenia typically involves a combination of medication management and therapy. Antipsychotic medications are commonly prescribed to help alleviate symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. Individuals with schizophrenia need to adhere to their medication regimen to manage their symptoms effectively. Life Adjustment Team offers comprehensive support, including medication management and therapy, to help individuals with schizophrenia manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

Substance Abuse Disorders

Substance abuse disorders are complex conditions characterized by the excessive and harmful use of drugs or alcohol despite negative consequences. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of substance abuse disorders is essential for parents to understand how they may impact their grown children and their families.

Some common signs and symptoms of substance abuse disorders include:

  • Changes in Behavior: Sudden mood swings, irritability, aggression, or secretive behavior.
  • Physical Changes: Weight loss or gain, changes in appearance, bloodshot eyes, and frequent illnesses.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: Decline in academic or work performance, neglecting personal hygiene, and financial problems.
  • Social Withdrawal: Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, spending time with new friends who also use substances, and avoiding family gatherings or social events.

The impact of substance abuse disorders on individuals and their families can be devastating. However, there is hope for recovery. Life Adjustment Team offers integrated support plans and resources to individuals and their affected parents and family members, guiding them as they confront the challenges of substance abuse and work toward long-term healing. The Team emphasizes the importance of therapy, support groups, and rehabilitation programs in addressing substance abuse disorders. These resources can confidently assist individuals and their loved ones in their journey to recovery.

Coping Strategies for Parents

Educating Oneself about Mental Illness

To effectively support your child, you need to have a strong understanding of their mental illness.

  • Research reputable sources to gain a thorough understanding of your child’s specific mental health condition.
  • Attend support groups or workshops tailored to parents of individuals with similar mental health challenges.
  • Consult with mental health professionals to gain insights into treatment options and strategies for supporting your child effectively.

Establishing Open Communication Channels

Communication is key to working through mental illness challenges with your adult child.

  • Create dedicated time for open and honest discussions with your child about their mental health concerns.
  • Practice active listening by giving your child full attention without interruption or judgment.
  • Validate your child’s feelings and experiences, letting them know they are heard and understood.

Setting Boundaries While Offering Support

Supporting a child with mental illness can be emotionally taxing, so it’s extremely important to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. 

  • Communicate your expectations and boundaries to your child compassionately and non-confrontationally.
  • Consistently enforce boundaries to maintain a sense of structure and stability in your relationship.
  • Seek guidance from a therapist or support group to navigate challenging situations and maintain healthy boundaries.

Self-Care Practices for Parents

It is crucial for you, as a caregiver of a child who suffers from mental illness, to take good care of yourself as well.

  • Prioritize self-care activities that promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies.
  • Set aside time for relaxation and stress relief to prevent burnout and maintain resilience.
  • When feeling overwhelmed or in need of assistance, seek support from friends, family members, or mental health professionals.

By implementing these coping strategies, parents can effectively handle the challenges of supporting a grown child with mental illness while prioritizing their own self-care and wellness.

The Role of Professional Assistance

Seeking professional help for both parents and their grown children dealing with mental illness is necessary for accessing specialized care, evidence-based treatment options, and robust emotional support. Mental health professionals like our team at LAT offer expertise in assessing, diagnosing, and treating various conditions, as well as tailoring treatment plans to individual needs. They provide a range of interventions, including therapy and medication management, while offering a supportive environment for emotional expression and coping skill development. Additionally, professionals can intervene during crises, collaborate with other healthcare providers, and guide families toward improved mental health and wellness.

How We Can Help

At Life Adjustment Team, we understand the unique challenges faced by parents of adult children dealing with mental illnesses. That’s why we offer a range of services designed to provide support, guidance, and assistance to both adult children and their parents. Our services include:

Therapy Options

We offer individual therapy sessions utilizing an evidence-based range of treatment strategies tailored to the specific needs of adult children with mental illnesses, as well as group therapy sessions. Our licensed therapists provide a safe and supportive environment where individuals can explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, learn coping strategies, and work towards their treatment goals.

Support Groups

We facilitate support groups for parents of adult children with mental illnesses, providing a space for mutual support, understanding, and encouragement. These support groups allow parents to connect with others facing similar challenges, share their experiences, and learn from one another.

Family Therapy

We offer family therapy sessions to help parents and their adult children improve communication, resolve conflicts, and strengthen their relationships. Family therapy can be a valuable tool for addressing family dynamics, fostering understanding, and promoting healing within the family unit.


We provide psychoeducational resources and workshops to help parents better understand mental illnesses, treatment options, and strategies for supporting their adult children. These resources empower parents with knowledge and tools to effectively navigate the challenges associated with mental illness.

Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR)

Our PSR services help parents coordinate care, access resources, and navigate the mental health system on behalf of their adult children. Our experienced case managers work closely with parents to develop personalized care plans and connect them with the appropriate services and support.

By offering a comprehensive range of services tailored to the needs of both adult children and their parents, Life Adjustment Team aims to provide holistic support and assistance to families coping with mental illness. We are committed to helping parents and their adult children navigate the challenges of mental illness and work towards improved mental health and wellness.

Life Adjustment Team’s Treatment Programs

Psychosocial Rehabilitation

Our psychosocial rehabilitation program focuses on enriching social, emotional, and cognitive capacities to aid individuals along their recovery journey. Through tailored interventions, participants engage in therapeutic activities to cultivate vital life skills. These include immersive skills training sessions, where clients acquire practical strategies for symptom management, communication enhancement, and problem-solving proficiency. Additionally, our supportive group settings offer individuals opportunities to connect with peers navigating similar challenges, fostering a sense of solidarity and empathy.

As a complement to these efforts, our program integrates vocational rehabilitation, which guides individuals in identifying their strengths, interests, and career aspirations. We provide comprehensive assistance in securing and sustaining meaningful employment, thereby equipping participants with the tools to pursue fulfilling and autonomous lives that integrate personal growth with professional success.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offered by Life Adjustment Team is meticulously crafted to deliver comprehensive care to individuals grappling with mental health challenges, all while allowing them to uphold their daily routines and obligations. Our program encompasses structured therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, and psychiatric evaluations, ensuring a holistic and integrated approach to mental health treatment.

During therapy sessions, participants receive individualized care tailored to their unique needs and objectives. These sessions may incorporate various evidence-based modalities, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and mindfulness-based therapy, among others, to effectively address symptoms and facilitate the journey to recovery. In our group therapy sessions, individuals can connect with peers, share experiences, and glean insights from one another within a nurturing and empathetic environment.

A standout feature of our IOP is its adaptability. Participants can attend sessions at times that align with their schedules, ensuring that treatment remains accessible and accommodating to their circumstances.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) at Life Adjustment Team is a vital intermediary step in care for individuals requiring intensive treatment without requiring round-the-clock supervision. Designed to provide structured support, our program offers comprehensive treatment during the day and allows individuals to return home in the evenings.

Within the PHP, participants gain access to diverse therapeutic modalities tailored to address their unique needs and bolster their path to recovery. This includes personalized individual therapy sessions, fostering confidential exploration of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with a dedicated therapist. Additionally, group therapy sessions provide avenues for peer connection, shared experiences, and the acquisition of valuable coping skills within a nurturing group environment.

Integral to our PHP is medication management, ensuring individuals receive appropriate medications to effectively manage symptoms. Furthermore, life skills training equips participants with practical strategies to navigate daily challenges and enhance their overall quality of life.

Duration within the PHP varies based on individual progress and needs, with some participants benefitting from several weeks of participation while others may find value in longer-term engagement. As individuals advance in their recovery, they may transition to lower levels of care or outpatient services, fostering continued support as they gradually reintegrate into their communities.

Why Choose Life Adjustment Team

Expertise and Experience

Our team comprises dedicated professionals with extensive experience and specialized training in mental health care. Through years of hands-on practice and continuous education, our staff is well-equipped to tackle various mental health challenges with precision and empathy. This wealth of expertise forms the foundation of our mission, ensuring top-notch support and positive outcomes for our clients and their loved ones.

Personalized Care Plans

Recognizing the uniqueness of each individual’s journey, we prioritize crafting personalized care plans tailored to meet every client’s and their families’ specific needs. Through thorough assessments and collaborative discussions, we develop care plans that consider the individual’s diagnosis and their preferences, strengths, and aspirations. This person-centered approach guarantees a more effective and compassionate path to recovery.

Holistic Support

Our approach extends beyond just addressing mental health symptoms to encompass the overall well-being of individuals and their families. In addition to therapy and medication management, we provide a range of supportive services, including vocational counseling, life skills training, and wellness programs. We strive to create an environment conducive to lasting recovery and fulfillment by addressing physical, emotional, and social aspects of wellness.

Community and Connection

We believe that a sense of community and connection is integral to healing. Life Adjustment Team fosters a supportive network that extends beyond traditional therapy sessions. We facilitate client and family connections through group therapy sessions, peer support groups, and community events. By nurturing a sense of belonging and understanding, we enhance healing and promote long-term wellness.

Proven Success

Our track record of success, evidenced by the testimonials and feedback from our clients, speaks volumes about the positive impact of our services. This success underscores our commitment to excellence and our unwavering dedication to helping individuals reach their full potential.

Ongoing Education and Resources

We understand the power of knowledge. We are dedicated to providing ongoing education and resources for families and individuals. Through workshops, training programs, and informational materials, we empower our clients with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate their mental health journey with confidence. Arming individuals and families with information and support, we help communities overcome obstacles and maintain a healthy, fulfilling life.

Contact Life Adjustment Team for Support and Guidance

As you maneuver the challenges of supporting your grown child with mental illness, remember that seeking support and assistance is a crucial component of success for both you and your child’s wellness. Coping with mental illness can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. Taking the initiative to address your concerns and seek guidance can make a significant difference in managing the situation effectively.

If you’re feeling unprepared or unsure about how to proceed, don’t hesitate to reach out to Life Adjustment Team. Our experienced professionals are here to provide you with the support and guidance you need. Whether you’re seeking advice on communicating with your child, exploring treatment options, or simply needing someone to talk to, we’re here to help.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation or appointment. Together, we can work towards finding solutions and supporting you and your grown child on the journey towards better mental health and wellness.