How Does Family Life Affect Mental Health?

Family relationships can substantially affect mental health, behavior and even physical health. Numerous studies have shown that social relationships, particularly family relationships, can have both long- and short-term effects on one’s mental health. Depending on the nature of these relationships, mental health can be enhanced or impacted negatively.

Family and Positive Mental Health Impact

When family relationships are stable and supportive, a person suffering from mental health issues or disorders may be more responsive to treatment. Companionship, emotional support and often even economic support can have a positive impact on someone coping with a mental health problem.

While some who suffer from mental health issues may require intense familial support, others may simply need help with transportation to get to treatment or the day-to-day companionship that most people require in times of need.

Family and Negative Mental Health Impact

An increasing body of research demonstrates that negative family relationships can cause stress, impact mental health and even cause physical symptoms. Research has demonstrated that non-supportive families can detract from someone’s mental health and or cause a mental illness to worsen.

Most of the care that mental health sufferers often rely on is from family, so when family members deny this support, the recovery process can be negatively affected.


Both mental and physical abuse can lead to negatively impacted mental health . When a child is abused, a mental health problem can occur and require a life-long need for management. Depending on the seriousness of abuse, the amount of time it has occurred, and the person’s existing mental health, the symptoms of a mental disorder can be profound and require years of treatment.

A person who has endured abuse by a family member may need routine therapy even when their mental health symptoms appear to be under control. The extent of the impact of abuse on children and young adults is still being studied.

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress can detract from both mental and physical health. Over time, this stress can lead to the development of a mental health issue such as anxiety or depression. Chronic stress within a family is a particular concern as it often leaves the sufferer with few options for stress relief.

Ideally, this stress can be counteracted if family members are willing to seek counseling. If the chronic stress continues, however, the sufferer may require individual therapy to learn how to best cope with their family circumstances.

If your family is impacting your mental health in a negative way, you may wish to make an appointment with a therapist or counselor in order to get help for your symptoms and learn strategies for coping with family problems.

The state of your mental health is not typically a choice, but you can choose to seek help. If your family is not supportive, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider who can help you understand your options so you can get the vital help you need.