The idea of a loved one taking their own life may seem far fetched, but the reality is that the number of Americans committing suicide has been increasing for decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognize suicide as a leading cause of death in the United States and data shows that the rate of suicide increased nationally by 25% from 1999 through 2016.
Nearly 45,000 Americans took their lives in 2016 alone, a harrowing statistic that shows that suicide is a risk that can affect any family. The’ threat of suicide feels even more real when a family member is struggling with a serious mental health problem.
That’s why it’s so important for those families to learn to talk about suicide, develop tools for determining their mental health problems are becoming worse, spot suicidal tendencies as they emerge, and respond by getting the necessary help. The following guide illustrates key strategies that families can use to protect their most vulnerable loved ones.
What Does Intervention for Mental Health Look Like?
When a loved one becomes increasingly isolated, demonstrates extreme mood swings, or starts to exhibit sudden changes in sleeping patterns, family members should pay close attention. These and many other signs can indicate that a loved one is under heavy duress and experiencing an increased risk of a mental health breakdown.
When families recognize the symptoms of a mental health problem, their best chances for getting a loved one into a safe and constructive environment is through the help of a professional interventionist.
When families approach a loved one dealing with a mental health problem without plan or experience, they are just as likely to push away a family member as they are to help them. These are just a few reasons working with a professional interventionist is so important.
Get Everyone On the Same Team
Not everyone is going to agree on how to proceed when a mental health problem is threatening a family member’s life. Some will desire to address the problem privately while others may not even recognize that there’s a problem in the first place.
Unless the entire family is on the same page, it’s very unlikely they will be able to guide a loved one toward the mental health care they need to move past their symptoms.
If a family member is close to suicide, there’s no time to waste. Working with an intervention specialists ensures that every family member knows their role in the recovery process and that the family is ready to proceed as quickly as possible.
An important aspect of getting loved one struggling with severe mental health problems is knowing how to move forward once a family member agrees to treatment. Failure to have a treatment solution lined up, especially if a family member is dealing with mental health issues and abusing substances, makes it more likely that a loved one will try to avoid treatment in the future.
Experienced intervention specialists are well versed in treatment methods and what to expect from care facilities. They use this knowledge to help family members set up treatment in advance, allowing a direct continuation from the intervention to the next stage of a loved one’s health care journey.
Show Compassion While Being Firm
It can be extremely difficult to provide the type of “tough love” support that some family members need before they accept care for their mental health problems. This is especially common when a substance abuse problem has entered into the mix. For most families, navigating the emotional complexities of these situations is a totally foreign and intimidating challenge.
The coaching and expertise of an intervention specialist is essential in these moments. Intervention professionals are experts in encouraging, educating, and equipping family members to deal with the rigors of guiding a loved one toward mental health treatment and a better life.
Dealing with Family Member Discomfort Around Interventions
A major obstacle that often stands between a loved one struggling with a mental health problem and effective treatment is family members themselves. But why would a family member try to discourage another from getting help with their health problem?
More often than not the complicated nuances of family dynamics become even more unpredictable when the touchy subject of mental illness is brought into the fold. Family members must address their own biases and hangups regarding depression, suicide, drug abuse, and other mental health disorders.
A few ways that a family member may impede another person’s journey toward better mental health include:
Keeping Symptoms a Secret – A family member may recognise the signs of a mental health problem but won’t bring this to the attention of other family members who might be able to intercede. This behavior may be motivated by jealousy or fear of the change that would occur when the loved one entered treatment.
Distracting Family Members – If a loved one is openly suffering from a mental health problem and the family is considering options for treatment, family members may act out to draw attention back to themselves. The reasons for this type of insecure projecting are varied but this type of scenario is common, especially among big families where siblings are using to competing for attention.
Denying the Problem – Older family members, typically parents and grandparents, are sometimes prone to denying that a family member is having problems with their mental health. This is largely due to personal aversions to mental health care or lack of information about how mental health problems develop or manifest. Guilt is a ubiquitous source of denial as well. Intentional education from a practiced professional is sometimes the only thing that can convince the entire family to get on the same page.
Types of Mental Health Problems That May Require Intervention
Being able to recognize a family member’s mental health issues and willing to get them the right type of help is only part of the equation. It’s also important that family members have a clear picture of what common mental health issues can look like, especially when these disorders can so often put loved ones at a higher risk for suicide.
One place to start gaining a better understanding of mental health problems that may be facing a loved one is to review the disorders most often associated with suicide. Knowing what these and how severe they can be will go a long way toward helping families get the right help for their family at the right time.
Depression has many causes, ranging from chemical changes to major events in life that have a major impact on an individual. What separates depression from typical negative feelings is that the emotional and physical symptoms of the disorder make it impossible for individuals to function normally.
The feeling of helplessness and hopelessness associated with that lack of normalcy is what drives many depression sufferers to consider taking their own lives. That’s why family members must be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
Lack of interest in activities or friends
Heavy or erratic sleeping patterns
Constant morose or heavy feelings
Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning
Individuals struggling with bipolar disorder must contend with not just bouts of depression but also with periods of uncontrollable high energy and lack of focus, referred to as a manic period or episode. In addition to dealing with the impacts of these two chemical and emotional extremes, unpredictability and personality shift is a major issue related to bipolar disorder that affects both the individual and their families.
In addition to common signs of depression, those dealing with bipolar disorder display the following manic symptoms as well:
Cases where those dealing with a mental health problem are made even further complicated when the individual is also abusing an addictive substance, from alcohol and prescription drugs to cocaine or heroin. These scenarios are commonly referred to as a dual diagnosis.
Most users take substances in order to combat symptoms of their mental health problems, which in turn creates a powerful cycle of dependency. Even more specialized care is necessary to deal with a dual diagnosis, especially once family members have fallen into a long-term pattern of abuse.
Comprehensive Treatment for Complex Problems
The experts at Intervention Helpline are committed to one thing and one thing only: helping individuals get the mental health support they need. We facilitate this process by making sure the intervention process is as effective as possible. Contact us if you’d like to know more about our expertise when it comes to mental health, dual diagnosis, and solutions for long-term success after treatment: 1 (877) 445-0774
Mike Loverde is a Certified Intervention Professional with more than 10 years of experience, and he is the founder and president of Intervention Helpline. He believes in taking a family-first approach to every intervention, and he created Intervention Helpline with the primary purpose of saving each family’s loved one before it is too late.
Furthermore, he is the primary writer for the Intervention Helpline Blog. He is always eager to share his insight and expertise on interventions, addiction treatment programs, rehab insurance coverage, relapse prevention and many other related topics.
Read the latest blog articles from the desk of Mike Loverde here, and don’t hesitate to contact if you have any questions or need intervention help now.
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