What if your family member refuses help

You and other family members may find yourselves in a situation where you disagree with your family member about the need for professional help. If your family member is unwilling to see a doctor or mental health professional, you should set some time aside to discuss your concerns and the reasons why she is unwilling to seek help. Be prepared to talk about specific behaviours or problems you have noticed. Sometimes symptoms of mental illness can stem from other physical illness. For this reason, you may want to first encourage your family member to see her family doctor for a check up (rather than suggesting from the start that she has a mental illness). You can also contact your family doctor or Community Mental Health about your concerns and what can be done.

In some cases, a person may be so ill that they need to be hospitalized. Not all people living with mental illness will need to be hospitalized; most people who need to be in hospital will admit themselves. There are, however, a number of people (often those who need help the most) who are unable to seek help.

If your family member is agitated, irrational and/or aggressive and you are concerned about her safety, yours or others, call the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team at 429-8167 or 1-800- 429-8167. If you feel that your family member’s safety or that of others is at immediate risk, call 911.

More information on what to do in emergency and crisis situations is included in “Managing Mental Illness.”

All people are different and so too are how we handle life experiences. While some people are quick to recognize when they are acting or feeling differently, others are not. Mental illness can have a significant impact on judgement, on when a person recognizes things are different and on willingness and ability to get help. Your family member may not see what you see. Even if she does, she may not be ready to get or accept help. This can be very frustrating, and over time, may make family members feel helpless.

Resources to help: