How to Help Heal a Family Member Suffering from Mental Illness

Mental Illness

Mental illness is not only detrimental to the person who suffers from it. It can also destroy entire families. Since it is an illness that is not so easily defined, like cancer or heart disease, it can also often lead to misdiagnosis and even malpractice in the form of medication errors and other problems. 

Says a representative of Sbrogna, Brunelle, and Donius, LLP (, cases involving a medical professional’s misdiagnosis and treatment can be a complicated legal matter. That’s why it’s do important to contact an attorney who can utilize effective and aggressive strategies when advocating for families with a member who suffers from a misdiagnosed mental illness. 

Medical misdiagnosis can lead to unnecessary therapeutic treatments, the exacerbation of the existing mental condition, and medication errors that can potentially lead to bad things and even suicide. The point for a family dealing with a mentally ill child and/or parent, is to obtain the correct diagnosis from the beginning and to start a treatment program from there. 

According to a recent article from the American Psychological Association, mental illnesses are defined as disorders that can affect a person’s behaviors, thoughts, and moods. On the serious side of the spectrum, mental illnesses can include numerous diseases such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and major depression.      

While the above scenario is indeed scary, it’s important for you to keep in mind that all of these diseases are treatable. Persons diagnosed with these diseases can, in theory, lead full, rewarding lives so long as they are willing to seek out the proper mental illness treatment from reputable medical professionals.  

Being handed a diagnoses for a serious mental disease can be shocking for both the person receiving the diagnosis and his or her entire family. But by engaging in a treatment and a plan can help to relieve at least some of the stress while beginning the road to recovery. 

Family members are naturally an invaluable resource when it comes to persons who are dealing with mental illness. By educating yourself about the illness, you can better support your sick loved one “through diagnosis and beyond.” 

Encouraging Your Sick Loved One to Seek Help

The many symptoms of mental illness can vary, but these are some of the more common signs: Becoming antisocial, having trouble at school or work, plus problems with memory and thinking straight are clear signs that something is very wrong. 

Feelings of disconnectedness from reality, along with changes in eating and sleeping habits are also bad signs. Alcohol and drug abuse along with extreme mood swings and the thoughts of suicide often prevail among the mentally afflicted.  

If you’re convince that a family member is exhibiting some of these signs it’s important to remain calm. It’s way too easy to imagine a worst-case scenario like suicide, but say the experts, “signs of mental illness often overlap with other problems.” 

Different Circumstances

The American Psychological Association states that you should consider whether or not other circumstances could be having an affect on your love one’s moods and behavior. For instance, has the person recently experienced some kind of trauma or shock, such as combat in war zone, or the death of a loved one? Has he or she started a new school or have they lost their job?  

Despite the answers to all the questions you have running through your brain, you should not allow the fear of a true diagnosis to prevent you from offering encouragement for your loved on to seek professional help. You can start by calmly talking to your loved one and expressing your concerns without placing any kind of blame or barking “alarmist language.”

You might try something like this: “You seem more stressed than usual. How can I help?” Or “You don’t seem yourself lately. Would you like to talk about it?” 

You can back up these statements and questions by pointing out specific instances of unusual behaviors like harshly lashing out at someone for seemingly no reason, or being paranoid over some imagined disease like a new virus being touted on the internet, or a refusal to see a dentist because “dentists ruin your teeth,” or a medical doctor because “they are evil.”  

If your family member refuses to take you up on offers of help then you might want to seek out a reputable physician on your own for a consultation. 

Harming Oneself or Others

If, in the end, you feel certain your loved one is in serious danger of harming others and/or him or herself, you have a definite emergency on your hands. That’s when you need to call 911. If you have sharp objects and firearms in the home, get rid of them immediately. You also have the right to examine your loved one’s personal space for anything that might be construed as a weapon. If they are on social media, check their posts to see if there’s anything that might be construed as a warning.  

If at all possible, when contacting 911, request an officer who is trained in “crisis intervention.” The experts say that lots of communities have officers on their staff who are trained to diffuse a mental illness crisis in the most constructive and safe way possible. 

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