Friday 30 October, 2020

How to support someone reluctant to seek help for mental health issues

[iStock.com/fizkes]

[iStock.com/fizkes]

For many people, the thought of seeking professional help for mental health issues can be a daunting one. For others, their psychological state may not allow them to take that action on their own.

In some instances, relatives may be required to intervene if they see a loved one who seems unable to cope with the mental health issues they are experiencing.

According to Dr Hazel Othello, Director of the Mental Health Unit, Ministry of Health, relatives should first try speaking to their loved one who is experiencing the mental health problem.

She said: “It's very important for relatives as far as possible to try to talk to that person to say to them, ‘Listen, I love you too much to leave you this way. I'm seeing what's happening to you. I'm concerned about you and I want to make sure that you get the help that you need. We don't think that because of this you're a bad person or you’re a wicked person or you're an evil person. We don't think it’s anything bad about you. We realize that you're not at your best and we want to help you.’”

She said sometimes with this approach, people do accept the help.

Dr Othello did say, however, that there are some instances in which the severity of the psychiatric symptoms make it difficult for the person to accept help.

It is at this point that she recommends accessing the assistance of mental health service providers.

A list of mental health resources within the public health sector can be found here.

Dr Othello said that in the event the person requires hospitalisation, and especially if they are being hospitalised against their will, they ensure it is done in accordance with the Mental Health Act of Trinidad and Tobago.

She said it is important that the individual’s autonomy and human rights be respected in the process.

However, Dr Othello said “in the vast majority of cases” the situation does not escalate to involuntary admission. 

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