What to do When your Young Adult Doesn’t Want to Take Their Mental Health Medication

Anyone taking medication for a mental health diagnosis knows that consistency is critically important. However, there are several reasons why people may choose to stop taking their medication.
  • The side effects are unpleasant.
  • Feeling loss of interest in things you used to love doing.
  • Symptoms seem to have gone away, so it might seem that the medication is no longer needed.

As a parent or caregiver, ensuring your children are taking their medication falls to you. So what do you do as your children get older and suddenly refuse to take their medication? This can be a daily battle that’s frustrating for everyone involved and really takes a toll on everyone in the household.

We asked a respected trauma therapist and trusted friend of Finally Home for some advice on what to do when our adult children don’t take their prescribed mental health medication.

  • Realize your limits: You can’t make adults take their meds.
  • Try not to make it a battle. Work to be calm in conversations about this, and protect yourself if necessary.
  • Be a mirror: Let them know the differences you see when they are off the medications as compared to when they are taking the meds. You can talk about this more than once, though not daily.
  • You may need to draw some boundaries: ‘If you don’t take your meds, then I don’t feel comfortable taking you on the family trip, or leaving you in our home alone, etc.’
  • There can be consequences to their behavior when off the meds, even if there are underlying psychological reasons for the behavior. It will help to educate yourself about the medication and their diagnoses.
  • Do your best to let the adults know you love them and have their best interests at heart.
  • Seek help from a professional counselor to help you cope with your own emotions and behavior.
  • Seek support from others who have been in similar situations.

Different strategies might work on different days, or in combination with each other. Keep trying different things until you find what works for you and your adult children.

We found an article on FNEHealth that might be helpful for your family: How to Help Someone with Mental Illness who Won’t Take Their Meds. While we appreciate the approach and tips shared in the article, please be aware that we cannot endorse this organization because we have not personally worked with it.

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