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Listening, Learning and Talking About Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs

At the beginning, family members affected by mental health, alcohol and other drug problems might talk about what's happening in their family. They might tell other family members and friends that their child has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Or talk about their child using illegal drugs. I know this because it was like this for me. At the beginning I thought I could try to help others to learn about and understand these problems as I muddled through trying to work out what it all meant. Alternatively, we might listen to the advice of family and friends (of which there is plenty that is well intentioned) and seek their help to give us a break from the stress and worry of it all - maybe asking them to let our child (of any age) stay with them for a while. And when this turns out badly with 'another bridge burnt' then silence becomes a safer option. I've come to learn that mental health, alcohol and other drug problems are complex problems with no quick fixes. And that there's such a lack of knowledge and understanding out there with judgement applied to individuals and families affected. Learning about why a mother might turn a blind eye to illegal drug use or why a father withdraws from the family is important if we are to tackle this problem in helpful ways. Being patient, tolerant and caring while we listen to people affected by mental health, alcohol and other drug problems would be a good place to start to overcome these problems.

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