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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5838
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am extremely concerned about my son's mental health. He is

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I am extremely concerned about my son's mental health. He is 18(and I understand that theoretically that makes him an adult - as does he). Currently he is living in a squat (with people who seem very genuine and pleasant) and has no regard for personal hygiene - in fact he is actively squalid (unlike the people he lives with). There was recently a fire in the squat (accidentally caused by him) and apparently he was unable to help or take any responsibility for what had happened. He is very very angry with me. He came round this evening to check use the computer and asked me for a meal which I gave him. By the time he left he was anxious, angry, physically hurting himself (by pulling at his face at everything I said). I provoke extreme hostility and hurt in him without raising my voice or saying anything unusual for a mother. His father died (of alcholism) last year and I don't believe he has allowed himself to grieve at all. He is 18 as I say but he appears to have the emotions and initiative of someone a great deal younger. I would almost say he has regressed. He has a grant but because he pays no rent and gets food from skips is spending the money without any sense of control (probably on drugs and alcohol but I don't know). I am concerned that this downward spiral is escalating and that I am the main conduit for triggering negative feelings and actions. I suppose my question (finally) is...can I get him any help? Clearly (and he said this to me in the past when I suggested we try some counselling together) he believes that he has no problem. It is all me. Sorry to be so long winded.
Hello, I’d like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your son may have either PTSD or he could have a serious mental health disorder. It is difficult to tell given how he is reacting, but his feelings towards you as well as his inability to manage his life at this point says that he is bothered by symptoms bad enough to keep him from helping himself.

His reaction to you may have to do more with the past and his father than with you. Sometimes, when a person has a difficult time in childhood, they tend to blame everyone instead of just the person who hurt them. They feel enough pain that it is too difficult to separate their emotions out so they end up feeling angry and hurt in general.

Helping your son may be hard due to how he feels about you. Even if it is unwarranted, he may resist help just because you suggest it because of his feelings. In order to get him help, the suggestion may have to come from someone else. What you may want to try is seeing if he is willing to see his doctor instead of a therapist. If he would agree, you can contact the doctor ahead of time and let them know what is wrong. Sometimes, a person will listen to a professional, even over their own family.

Another option is to see if he is willing to try self help. It is less intrusive than therapy and can set him on the right path. A book, self help group or resources on line may help.

You can also try asking a friend of his or a trusted family member to intervene and talk with him. He may listen to them.

If all else fails, you may want to try an intervention. An intervention involves family and friends gently confronting the person with their concerns in an attempt to break through denial and help the person see they need help. Most interventions involve alcohol use or drugs, but it can work as well with mental health issues. It is best done with a counselor involved, but you can do it without as long as you know the guidelines. Here is a resource to help:

The best thing you can do is to be there for him. However things turn out, he still knows to come to you for help even if he is difficult to deal with. So you are important to him.

I hope this has helped you,
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you Kate. I have tried books but sadly,because he is so resisting to acknowledging any problem, he won't look at them. The doctor did write to him twice after he had been referred to the Comunity Mental Health Team after he cut himself (it was at this point he decided he could no longer at home - he was 17 then , 5 months after his father died - and the crash seemed to come out of the blue.) He has refused to go to the doctor. It seems that he is actively resisting help because he wil have to confront things if he does. I know I can't force it. I just want to protect him. I wil have a look at your link on interventions but I am really scared of driving him completely away. Will this reach some conclusion do you know or could he be in this state for years? I worry that if the squatting is no longer an option he'll end up in the streets rather than seek help form me. Incidentally he is highly intelligent (even though he is currently child-like in much of his emoticon behaviour)

Thank you for the additional information. It sounds like your son could have Bipolar, Borderline and/or Schizophrenia. However, this is only a guess based on what you told me so please don't feel it is definitive. However, if he does have such a diagnosis, it would explain his reluctance to seek help. It is very common for someone who is struggling with these types of diagnosis to resist treatment. At some point, most people who struggle as your son does do end up either seeking treatment on their own or they are encouraged by circumstances or others in their life who are able to convince them. Sometimes it is just a matter of them seeing it themselves as well.

I understand your fear of pushing him away. It can be a difficult balance when you want to keep your son in your life yet you want to get him help. You may want to try to start at the least intervention possible (such as a friend or family member talking with him) then go from there. Interventions are a last resort and they are known to work well if there is some hope the person may listen. Keep researching it as an option and ask the opinion of others who know your son to get input about whether or not they feel it might work and if they are willing to help you with it. He may resist and pull away from any help you try to get him, but it is unlikely he will stay away forever since you are a safe haven for him and you are willing to care for him when he needs it.


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Thank you very much for the rating and generous bonus. I appreciate it! If I can help in the future, please let me know.

Take care,