Reaching Out with a Helping Hand
It can be difficult to watch a loved one suffer with the symptoms of mental illness, and even harder to talk to that person about getting help. But reaching out to a person in need and showing them that help is available is the right thing to do.
When to speak up
If you feel the person might be in danger of self-harm or harming others, the first thing you should do is call 911. For all other circumstances, the best thing to do is find an appropriate time and place to talk about the signs you have noticed, says John Heumann, LCSW, a social worker with Mercy Behavioral Health.
"This might be a time when nobody else is home or it might include a family intervention with a group of family members," Heumann says. "There is no one technique that is preferred over another because each family dynamic is different."
Be sure to emphasize that there are resources available that can help a person overcome mental health issues, but be careful not to overwhelm the person with too much information, says Gina Sykes, a crisis worker in the Mercy Emergency Department.
Point toward professional help
"I often say psychiatry is a specialty in medicine," she explained. "When there is a problem with your heart, you go to a cardiologist; when there is a problem with your foot, you go to a podiatrist; and when you are feeling depressed or experiencing mood changes, you see a psychiatrist who is a medical doctor specializing in behavioral health."
For a free consultation and referral to a psychologist, psychiatrist or licensed therapist of Mercy Behavioral Health, call 312.567.2000. People can also receive walk-in crisis counseling and support at the Mercy Emergency Department.
No matter how or where your loved one seeks treatment, the important thing is getting the help he or she needs, and deserves.