Covid-19 Mental Health Crises Place Emphasis on the Importance of Family Support Systems

Covid-19 Mental Health Crises Place Emphasis on the Importance of Family Support Systems

Imagine a child running on the street, having fun, having no care in the world, just the child enjoying the moment under the sun. This blessed child suddenly stumbles and falls without a scrape, then cries, “Mommy! Daddy!”.

The child with all of his innocence knows that his family is his only support. This is the only support he knows instinctively by his heart. Whether a parent or a guardian, this child sees you as a pillar of strength.

Mommy and Daddy come to the rescue and kissing their child. The pain ‘magically’ disappears, and he continues to run to the playground as nothing happened. We might not see in the naked eye how a magic hug and kiss helped ease the pain from his fall, but the child knows in his heart that he is protected and cared for.

The Value of Family Support

For most of us, our family is the first one we see the moment we open our innocent eyes to the world. The first moments we spend in this lifetime are with our parents (or parent figures), and we depend on them for guidance, protection, and sustenance for our basic needs most of the time.

As years passed, the formation of life and one’s individuality has changed. With the ever fast-paced advancement of technology, exposure to changing cultural norms and traditions, new priorities, and the huge influence of the Internet, it is no wonder why we hear stories about people having unusual family setup.

Does this mean that the family has no place in the modern world we are in?

The answer to that is a big NO. Having strong family support is very much important, now more than ever, especially in this evolving world. And here in this article, we will explore why such support is important to an individual, and how you can be a strong support to your family.

Family is the first line of support in basic mental health first aid

Yes, you read that right — and it is not something to be intimated of.

Many people think of the terms mental health and first aid as something that is only limited to the likes of psychologists and professional first aiders. However, we tend to forget why it is called basic mental health first aid in the first place.

Mental health first aid is defined as “the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis.”. Simply put, it is the kind of support initially given until appropriate professional help is received or until the crisis resolves.

And that is what makes the family more than qualified for such aid.

Family members are often the first ones to recognize changes in behavior from a family member after years of being together or in contact. They can recite your likes and dislikes, name your pet peeves, and even pinpoint your mannerisms before you even know it!

And do you know what’s the best thing about it? It is knowing that even if you are falling or about to fall into the pit of mental instability, there will always be people ready to hold you from falling or are pulling you up from the pit. More than anyone, your family is the one who will believe in you most — that’s why they are your first line of support.

Family is the factory that produces new citizens in the society

In ancient Athens, specifically, the family is considered to be an institution whose primary social function is to produce new citizens. Looking at this definition on the surface level alone, one can conclude that the concept of family is being equated to a mere citizen-manufacturing facility during the ancient times — yep, just like a factory.

While this is partially true, we have to understand its deeper meaning. Considering how times have changed and how we have also changed to be more capable-thinking individuals, we now go way beyond the tip of the iceberg and delve deeper into what family serves in society.

It is the basic unit of socialization. The family ensures the continuation of society through socialization. With this in mind, the family becomes the base where socialization happens. Whether it may be a nuclear or extended family, all members put effort into helping children socialize from the moment they are born.

It helps regulate sexual activity and sexual reproduction. This definition can be well reiterated how the family is viewed during ancient times. With this, the family serves as a teaching unit for children to learn these norms. This is because the young must be given the appropriate emotional and practical care they are entitled to without being taken advantage of their innocence.

It automatically gives members a social identity. The moment we are born into this world, a certain identity is already attached to us similar to that of our parents — their social class, race, ethnicity, and religion are just some of these things. Having a social identity gives us a starting point.

A perfect example would be the ever-inspiring rags-to-riches story. People who come from the bottom of the social hierarchy are usually the ones who have the overflowing motivation to succeed in life. They know for a fact that their family is not at the best place in life, and that’s what motivates them to strive for more. Yes, those people may not have the best social identities in the beginning, but through that starting point, they propelled themselves to success.

Families help to drive social movements and build communities

There is a reason why the family is called the basic unit of society.

In a family, you are nurtured to shape your morals, thoughts, and behaviors with the guidance of your parents, siblings, and relatives. It then becomes your guiding push — your moral compass. These are the then the set of morals, thoughts, and behaviors you reflect towards your community, and the ones that you pass on to our future families. If we trace this and see how this is going to become, we can never have a good community without a good family.

The family can encourage you to make wholesome choices that will not only benefit you and your family but also for the better good. When you belong to a healthy family, you are geared to making positive contributions to the community.

When parents show their children that doing volunteer work and participating in donation drives for the community, they model an attitude of caring. They show their children that by providing money, food, and supplies to those who are in need in the community, they are helping the community serve the people better.

Another example of how families help drive social movements and build communities is through open conversations inside the household. What’s beneficial about this is that learning doesn’t go just one way either!

Mind you, mindful and open conversations are not easy. However, through time, this is what makes children and young adolescents learn how to settle conflicts and raise suggestions on their own, all with the right manners. Each family member is the ultimate key to a better society and that if we want to drive the right social movements, we should start within the family.

Struggles within the family

As much as we have highlighted the value of family support right from the beginning, we can’t take away the fact that sometimes our greatest struggles are found within the family itself. There are times wherein we find ourselves tightlipped because we can’t tell anyone our problems, or that we are afraid to even call it a problem in the first place because they are stemming from one of our family members.

Colossians 3:13

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Looking more into struggles within the family, the verse above emphasizes a trait that we must express toward each other — “bearing with one another”. Members of the family should treat one another with kindness and compassion because again, nobody is perfect.

Bearing with one another includes genuine forgiveness, without hesitation and grudge, as well as tolerance. Parents and children should understand that instead of demanding perfection in others, we need to willingly endure our family members’ quirks and peculiarities for that is what makes them THEM. And when they fail, we must be ready be to forgive and help them heal. Through this, we can be the right family support for one another.

How about you? Do you have instances in your life wherein you are caught in a situation that entails you to be forgiving to your family members?

Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Firstly fathers, please don’t take this verse out of context!

Although the responsibility of taking care of the children goes for both parents, fathers are specifically entrusted with a leading responsibility for raising the children as head of the family. The verse tells fathers to not make children mad with unreasonable yelling, excessive discipline, and other harsh treatments. Instead, fathers must nurture their children with discipline (yes, this is still important) and teachings not of their ways, but that of the Lord’s.

If we try to look at it more simply, the verse is telling fathers to be compassionate in their ways of raising their children. This means avoiding unfair and cruel behavior, and to always be hands-on in raising their children.

Psalm 127:3–5

“Children are a heritage from the Lord,

offspring a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior

are children born in one’s youth.

Blessed is the man

whose quiver is full of them.

They will not be put to shame

when they contend with their opponents in court.”

Family life is indeed very challenging, but what makes it so beautiful is the presence of children throughout the journey.

We always hear couples that their relationship got stronger when their children arrived in their lives. Now as these children grow up, complications start to arise — young ones begin to develop their own set of morals and beliefs, which may not be entirely similar to that of their parents. This may result in another site of conflict within the family, if and only if members of the family will not try to understand one another.

Yes, it will always be a matter of what kind of support you have within the family.

I end this article in full circle with emphasis on the importance of family support. From the moment we are born into this world, it’s a given for us to depend on our family to provide for us, to protect us, and to prepare us for the challenges ahead. It is through the family that we’re able to shape our moral compasses, and from there navigate our way with guidance.

However, we must also remember that family support is not only limited to family members having your back when you have problems concerning anything outside of your home. Family support is also about struggles on the inside — for members to be accepting of each one’s flaws, and to understand the individualities of every member.

As family members ourselves, we must also be open to constructive criticisms from our family. Guidance and support from our family will not be effective if we don’t allow ourselves to be helped in the first place, so we must also do our part. Being part of a family is both a blessing and a responsibility.

 

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