Holidays are an important time for families. Traditions and celebrations can tie a family together and boost spirits long after the season ends. But not every family takes advantage of this opportunity to bond. Experts have argued that family bonding throughout the year is vital for the mental health and happiness of all members.
One champion of the concept of healthy families making happy people is Ajit Avasthi, M.D., from the department of psychiatry at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India. His report, “Preserve and strengthen family to promote mental health,” delved into the importance of family for Indian culture and other societies.
Avasthi defined the universal attributes of family as including a strong emotional core, formative influence over individual members, effects on social responsibility and the importance of cooperation, among other tenets of functioning. These qualities all have the power to influence mental health.
Strong families aid in the successful mediation of mental illness outcomes, Avasthi asserted. In particular, one aspect of his research found that schizophrenia patients fared better when hailing from large families, although differences in cultures between the patients could have affected results.
In light of this and other evidence, mental health pundits encourage individuals to pursue togetherness with families for the sake of mental wellness.
Michele L. Brennan, Psy.D., in an article for PsychCentral, explained that traditions are a cornerstone for happy families any time of the year.
“[Traditions] give us a sense of belonging and a way to express what is important to us. They connect us to our history and help us celebrate generations of family,” Brennan opined in her article, “Why Holiday Traditions Might Be More Important Than You Think.”
That said, she advised individuals to seek warmth and fun in their rituals rather than perfection.
Joe Wilner, a licensed master level psychologist, outlined other methods of increasing family togetherness through the PsychCentral article “How to Strengthen Your Family Bond.” He discussed the benefit of family exercise, such as going for walks or participating in sports.
Shared interests in recreation, work and school can also bring families together. Wilner said that parents should show an interest in their child’s educational pursuits. Doing so can fuel passions for the subjects in question and strengthen relationships.
While many activities can bring families together, some individuals deal with the burden of dysfunctional upbringings that prevent successful bonding times. Young people in particular can be hampered by early traumas in the home. As such, intervention from mental health specialists can be vital for a healthy adulthood.
Experts with White River Academy treat boys between the ages of 12 and 17 for a variety of mental illnesses and traumas, which can occur in unhealthy family environments. Find out more about our treatment programs and activities by calling our 24/7 helpline at any time.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz.