Caring for Adult Children with Mental Illness: How to Help | NAMI

Caring for Adult Children with Mental Illness: How to Help

Posted on September 27, 2023

George Kaufmann described difficulties he and his wife faced dealing with an adult child with mental illness. “As parents and family members, we got frustrated. We didn’t know what to do,” he said. “We didn’t have experience dealing with mental illness. We repeatedly did stuff that didn’t work or made things worse.” NAMI CMO Ken Duckworth, MD, agrees that being a caregiver to an adult child with mental illness is one of the most difficult things a parent can face. One of the most common feelings that parents of adult children with mental illness face is the sense that no one understands what they’re going through, Duckworth said. They feel lost, not knowing where to turn for practical and emotional support. To address these concerns, Duckworth wrote the book, You Are Not Alone: The NAMI Guide to Navigating Mental Health. Duckworth encourages parents to attend the NAMI Family-to-Family program — an 8-week group run by family members of people with mental illness — which offers education about topics such as effective communication, self-care, compassionate support of one’s family member, and locating resources. People can share what they’re going through and find emotional support. Kaufmann, whose story was told in the book, went to his first meeting of the group 25 years ago.


NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).