Mental illness is a tragedy that impacts not only the patient but the friends and loved ones as well. If someone you love is suffering from a mental illness, you likely want to do everything in your power to help them, but the first step is to help them help themselves.
A common symptom of nearly all mental illnesses is an inability to look inside oneself and recognize the behavioral patterns that are problematic. The most important thing you can do to help someone you are concerned about is to help them gain that insight into their own behavior so that they can take the necessary steps toward recovery.
An intervention may be an effective means to achieve that goal.
Planning an intervention
The first step you should take in planning your intervention is making sure that you have tried calmly speaking to your family member or friend. An intervention should not be held until other avenues of recovery have been explored.
If you choose to carry out the intervention, first compose a list of the people closest to the patient that should be there. Remember, this is all about the patient, so select people with which the patient has a strong, positive relationship. Sit down with all of them at once and determine what you wish to accomplish with the intervention.
Make a list of your loved one’s problem behaviors and write down how they are damaging to him/her as well as your personal relationships with the patient. Be sure to express these concerns in a kind but firm manner. The point of an intervention is not to scold the patient, but at the same time, they must be told with some sense of urgency that a change must be made. If getting treatment is your hopeful outcome, select a facility and pre-arrange travel there prior to getting your loved one to agree to an intervention.
Seeking professional help
Confronting someone you love is a difficult thing to do, and if you don’t feel comfortable doing it alone, perhaps a formal intervention is what you’re looking for. Some facilities offer remote interventions in which a mental health professional will come to your location and help you to plan a successful intervention. An intervention team will gather information on the patient and his/her illness, and review it in order to formulate the best possible plan of action including methods of intervention and treatment possibilities.
An interventionist can help you and your family write and review personal messages to read to the patient during the intervention, as well as rehearse the intervention itself. You’ll be able to voice any concerns you have with a medical professional – such as how to deliver your message; how, when and where the intervention will take place, and how to make the intervention a heartfelt, loving and life-changing moment for your loved one.
Nobody wants to see their loved ones suffer, and interventions have proven an effective way to change the lives of those affected by mental illness. Don’t hesitate to help someone you love overcome their challenges.
David Cormier is a blogger for a mental health organization.