While you may care for someone’s wellbeing and believe you know what’s best for them, adults maintain the legal right to make decisions about their treatment.
There could be many reasons why a person decides to not engage in treatment or rely on only some treatment options. Some people decide not to take psychiatric medication because of unpleasant side effects, or they decide to manage their symptoms on their own. Some people don’t think therapy helps. What’s important is that the person is living a life that brings them satisfaction and happiness.
However, without treatment some people aren’t able to achieve the type of life they’d like to have. In this case, a relationship built on trust will put you in a better position to discuss the benefits of participating in treatment and how it may help them achieve their life goals.
Lack of Awareness – How to Communicate with Your Loved One
Often an individual living with a mental health diagnosis – particularly one that involves a serious mental health condition (or one complicated by a substance use disorder) – may not actively participate in their own recovery. This is known as Anosognosia [Ah-no-zog-nosha], a co-occurring condition that can accompany a serious mental health illness and render the individual unable to recognize that they have a mental health condition and/or that they need to seek help. This is especially troubling for families and friends who are often responsible for providing care for their loved one.
To learn techniques for communicating with your loved one, and to help them agree to partner in their recovery, we would recommend reading I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help!, a book by Dr. Xavier Amador - a psychologist whose experiences with his own family demonstrated how challenging this condition could be. In his book Dr. Amador discusses the condition of Anosognosia and outlines strategies for communicating (using the LEAP Approach) with a loved one to help them work toward recovery. Portions of the book are accessible to the public on our website here; the book is available in English and Spanish for purchase at online booksellers.
A broader discussion of the strategies of Dr. Amador’s LEAP approach, including videos on how to apply the LEAP approach, are available for free here.
My Loved One Won’t Leave the House to be Evaluated – What Are My Options?
An alternative option to consider: a Mobile Crisis Unit (MCU) or, Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team, is an emergency mental health service offered by many (but not all) counties across the nation to provide on-scene evaluation, treatment and crisis interventions in the community. The teams specialize in providing these services to individuals who are experiencing a mental health emergency and who need, but are unwilling or unable to seek, mental health treatment.
While the goal of the MCU is to enlist the individual’s cooperation and develop the least restrictive treatment options, the MCU is authorized to recommend and facilitate involuntary hospitalization and treatment when necessary.
The criteria for requesting an MCU varies depending upon the county or city mental health agency. However, a person experiencing a mental health crisis that presents a danger of harm to self or others - and is unwilling or unable to accept emergency services - would qualify for mobile crisis services. If you are unsure about the availability of mobile crisis services in your area or when it’s appropriate to call, contact the emergency mental health services in your county for more information by dialing 211.
Being Prepared for a Mental Health Crisis
Being prepared for a mental health crisis by learning about resources and support services allows you to act fast and make good decisions. You may find the information contained in NAMI’s publication, Navigating a Mental Health Crisis to be particularly helpful.
We would also urge you to read through the information on our website on Being Prepared for a Crisis. There, you will learn about developing a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), which can be very helpful in planning for your loved one’s overall care and how to avoid a crisis.
Taking Care of Yourself
Often, when trying to care for a loved we forget to take care of ourselves. You may find much of the information under the Family Members and Caregivers section of our website useful. There, among other topics, you will learn about Supporting Recovery, and Taking Care of Yourself.