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7 questions to ask at your next family reunion


During the holidays and summer time, many families have the opportunity to get together and have reunions. This is a great time for many families  to catch up because every one shares fun and epic stories of different relatives on the family tree.

Some stories that sometimes get omitted are about mental health. This can be a very sensitive topic for most families to talk about. However, this can be the most important information shared amongst eachother. 

Many times when I meet new patients, they have no idea of the mental health history on both sides of their family. This is vital because it can give the mental health provider a better insight into what to expect and see how a certain condition can effect you.  As the saying goes, the apple does not fall to far from the tree. 

When your family gathers for a reunion or holiday, use this time as exploration. This can be a very powerful moment where you can take ownership of your own mental health. This information will be vital to your spouse and your children. You can learn a lot about your great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and your siblings.

Some common mental health conditions to discuss about are:


Questions you can ask while being sensitive to feelings of family members:

1) Who has (had) a mental health condition?

2) What medications are (were) they on?

3) Did they do well on the medications?

4) Are (Were) there any side effects to the medications?

5) Has anyone been hospitalized and how many times?

6) Anyone die by suicide or attempted suicide?

7) Is there chronic substance use in the family history?


These questions may be uncomfortable and a relative has the right share as much or little as they choose. However, the questions can help foster a necessary discussion about how mental illness effects family ties and bonds. You may grow a greater appreciation of a family member who had to fight their mental illness while balancing their work and home life. The best way to destroy the stigma of mental illness starts from home.


We at Genesis Psychiatric Solutions are hear to assist you, if you like to know more please call (703)955-0916 or email

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Dr. Ifeanyi Olele Ifeanyi Olele, DO, MBA, MS, is a board-certified psychiatrist who sees adolescent and adult patients in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area at Genesis Psychiatric Solutions. Dr. Olele is a dedicated psychiatrist in the treatment of anxiety, depression, trauma-related stress disorders, and attention deficit disorders. Dr. Ifeanyi Olele is one of the few psychiatrists who utilizes psychotherapy (talk therapy) as part of his treatment plan.

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